One of the great graces of this cure (a new parish call for a priest), one that has been a mutual gift from the first day I was in the office here on Main Street in Spotswood, has been Morning Prayer at 9 AM with the staff and anyone else who is interested in joining with us. What began as a spontaneous sharing of prayer between myself and our parish administrator has grown into a steady and welcomed addition to our parish's prayer life: a great witness that small seeds planted with faith in God to give growth do in fact do just that by the power of the Holy Spirit. The congregation ranges in numbers, from three to sometimes as many as seven, but always there are just enough to gather in God's name, pray, read scripture and remember people in need and all things we can be thankful for as the day opens anew.
A benefit of that prayer time, I am finding, is a humbling awareness that much of what I can muster in term of productivity and ability very often flows from the fact that the day begins first in prayer. Sitting down to a to-do list, no matter how short or long, seems to drag on days without prayer being the first item....and on days when prayer is first I find that more gets done, sometimes more than I had on my list in the first place!
Clearly, I can ascribe this blessing to God...for when the day begins in prayer I can pretty much assume that with a little focus I can continue my work in prayer. And thus, better focus! But that is only a portion of the solution, I am finding.
The more I pray, I find, the less I pray about my own concerns. I find myself orienting outwards, and it is almost like the pores on the surface of my soul are actually softening and opening up to what the world's concerns are, and how the Church might actually be of help to it. You might say, "OF COURSE! THAT'S YOUR JOB!" It is. Still, prayer is a discipline and a choice. It only happens when you choose to participate in it, to make it happen in you and around you. Sometimes the ordained are good at choosing to pray actively and with an ongoing focus. Sometimes, the fall away from the practice. It happens to all of us in season.
So, right now, prayer is coming easily to me, and I am working on getting as much of it into my soul's pores as they can hold. That is why I offered that title to this post...as I focus on the day's work after spending another morning first devoted to prayer, I feel like I am well-set with a sense of being at least a little closer to God's presence than I was when I got out of the car this morning and walked into the office to begin the day. May God guide to its end as it began: in prayer.