One of my personal goals is to live “consciously in the presence of God.” By that I mean to live with an awareness of the sacred dimension of each moment and movement of my daily life, even in the most mundane of activities. I have to admit, however, that I often fall short. Pastors get very busy with their churches and with the business of life and can neglect the daily cultivation of their own devotional lives. In that vein I offer some guidelines from a dear and saintly woman I have known in prior years, Flora Wuellner. Consider her guidelines for a way to “pray through the day.”
Prayer is primarily a relationship with God, not a set of rules or gymnastic disciplines. Our prayer methods are most fulfilling when they arise from the natural ways we relate to others.
Waking: Let yourself return with gentleness to full consciousness. Stretch, lightly mas-sage your face, neck, hands, and arms. Lovingly greet your awakening body. Listen to any signals of bodily tension or discomfort. With each gentle breath picture or sense God’s renewing light and life flowing into your body. Does the memory of any dream tell you something significant? Take a moment to think about it prayerfully. When ready, picture or sense your body moving with joyful strength out of bed, and then move into the sensed picture of yourself.
Cleansing and Dressing: As you drink water, eliminate, wash, let God’s love be expressed through running water on your body. (An ancient, sacramental symbol.) Many people find they pray best when in the shower! These are meant to be healthy, holy, pleasurable actions. While dressing, sense God’s renewing light clothing and enfolding you toughing and blessing each bodily part.
Eating and Drinking: claim each bite of food and each cup you drink as God’s direct gift of life. As you eat and drink, you are bonded more closely and the body of God’s world. Eating and drinking is an ancient sacramental act, and as with all sacraments it is meant to increase our vitality, our joy, our thankfulness, our health. It is also meant to deepen our compassionate awareness of our brothers and sisters who are hungry and our intention to reach out to the hungry more fully. If you eat alone, note with delight the color, texture, taste, and fragrance of your food, and inwardly thank the animal or plant that shares its life with you. If with others, let there be laughter, tender fellowship, and shared loving awareness of the divine energy that comes to you through the food and drink.
Facing the Day: Early in the day, or on your way to work, claim Christ’s promise: “When I go and prepare a place for you, I will come…and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also (John 14:3). This is a promise not just for the transition of death, but for any experience that lies ahead of us. God’s love will go ahead of us, pre-paring the place for us, filling that place with light and healing, so that when we get to that task, that office, that meeting, that challenge we will feel welcome and strengthened.
It is also helpful to claim God’s protecting, embracing light around that car, bus, bicycle, train or plane that you will use.
Working: Through the day, give loving thought to your bodily parts which are especially being used; eyes, hands, feet, arms, legs, brain. Touch them occasionally and encourage them like good friends working with you. Listen to your bodily signals of tension, stress, discomfort. These are messages telling you about stress within you or in your surroundings. Sense God’s embrace around your stress. At intervals, take a few moments to sense or claim God’s healing.
At intervals, take a few moments to sense or claim God’s healing renewing presence which is “closer than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.” Become aware of your breathing, and with each gentle breath sense or picture God’s light and warmth flowing through your body like a river. This can be done even in the midst of a meeting. Inwardly include those who are working with you as also held in this light and warmth. Such frequent, silent prayer can make an enormous difference in the atmosphere of a workplace, or in any other community.
In Relationships: As you go through the day, be aware that most of the time you are among “the walking wounded”. With each encounter, whether face to face, by phone, by letter, claim, picture, or sense Christ’s light around the other, or Christ’s healing hands on the other. Try to sense the hurt, bewildered, or frightened “child” with the other, which is usually masked. Inwardly reach out that inner child of the other. If you feel drained of energy or uncomfortable with the other person, picture or claim the Christ between you and the other, so that you do not feel yourself to be the sole source of nurture for the other. Sense also that beautiful child within the other of giftedness and hope, Sense the inner beauty of the other struggling to open up to the light like a plant pushing up from the darkness of the earth to the sunlight. Inwardly celebrate that deep growing even if you cannot yet see any change.
Celebration and Thankfulness: During the day, often take a “mini-Sabbath” and gaze at a tree, cloud, bird, flower, sun’s ray, or experience with intentionality a fragrance, sound, taste, or touch. Let your five senses rejoice. Let God touch you through your senses and renew you.
Preparing for Sleep: Give your day’s hurts and joys into God’s hands. Gently breathe the light of God through each bodily part. As you move into the mystery of sleep, trust that you are held by God’s “everlasting arms”. If you lie awake, know that God’s tender, renewing strength still flows to you and through you. “My soul clings to Thee. Thy right hand upholds me”. (Psalm 63)