I grew a little today. No measuring tape will show it though. We are working through a series called “Intersections”, looking at other religions and World Views, discovering more about what we believe, from what others believe. A few weeks ago we talked about Islam and it’s “Five Pillars”. From our discussion I decided I’d take a day and practice something they do everyday, by praying 6 times a day. I made few adjustments from their prayers but I followed their prescribed schedule (today it was 5:45am, 7:00am,12:15pm, 3:12pm, 5:29pm & 6:45pm). But I got down on mat (I used an old beach towel) with my shoes removed, on my knees facing East (towards Jerusalem). It truly took me out of my comfort zone, I learned a few good lessons and was challenged to reconsider how and when I pray. Here are just a few insights I gained.
1. It is humbling to get on my knees. I don’t know when I last lay prostrate to honor God or in humble submission before Him. Doing it six times in day was a fantastic way to not just practice it in my heart, mind or interactions with others BUT to physically do it before God. By the afternoon prayer I was thinking ahead about the next prayer time – wondering if I could get on my knees in form if I wasn’t submitting myself to God in thought and heart leading up to the next prayer time. I wanted it mean something and found that it gave me a sense of focus for the next few hours.
2. My schedule was not my own today. I typically set the agenda for each day. I felt like today God set some of agenda, there where specific times that I had to plan around or interrupt whatever I was doing because He came first at those times. Taking the times seriously meant getting up really early, it was freezing out (it was 17 degrees at 5:45am). I had a meeting at 3pm. I interrupted the meeting at 3:10 to tell the person I had to pray outside at 3:12. After explaining to them why, I invited the person I was with to go outside with me (it was snowing out) to pray with me, we took our shoes off and shared the space on my prayer mat. At the 6:45pm and I thought I was alone, having just taken off my shoes and having had just bent face down someone walks around the corner, there I was, just enough light for from the building for them to see me. I’m bowing down facing some chairs, on a beach towel no shoes on. They asked me what was a really good question, “are you o.k.?” Can you say “embarrassing?”
3. My love for Jesus ought to make people ask, “are you o.k.?”. I’m not sure that God wants the distinctive sign to show others that we love and serve Him to be our christian teeshirts or bumper stickers or even that we pray on mats six times a day. But our choices and practices ought to be distinct enough from the culture that we live in that occasionally others ought wonder why we are living the way we do and ask, “are you o.k?”.
4. The best time of prayer I had was not on the schedule. I was Starbucks and someone from church came in, we talked for a bit and before they left we prayed together (shannon was there to). Praying with people at Starbucks is not all that uncommon for me actually but what was nice was being able to have two more afternoon prayer times to pray for them and to ask God to give me another opportunity that day to be blessed by others and to be a blessing to others.
Shannon participated today too. Here are some of her thoughts: I learned today that I dont think about prayer as much as I should. I pray but I dont stop what I’m doing at that moment and get on my hands and knees and really pray. Today all I could think about was praying and where was I going to be and what time I was going to have to get down on my hands and knees and pray. At the 12:31 pm call to prayer I was at Starbucks and I thought maybe I should skip this one but sitting there with Michael and Lauren I knew they would do it with me. After we did it, I felt good and was glad to have just stopped everything and prayed. It also made the rest of the day easier to stop what I was doing and pray on my hands and knees. After today I am going putting reminders on my phone at different times just to stop what I’m doing and pray. I am glad I did the call to prayer today because it made me go out of my comfort zone. It also showed me how important it is to think about prayer.
Today Brandon took the practice that we discussed from Judaism and today made a box, hung it next to his door in his apartment and picked these verses to go into it: Psalms 4:1 & 5:8; Ephesians 5:8.
I’d love to hear if you have adopted any of the practices that we’ve talked about and what you learned from them.