O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
Do you ever have times in your life that feel spiritually dry? You hear all the words in Sunday worship, you read your bible during the week, but when you pray it feels empty and lacking life? Before I entered seminary I felt that I had a robust spiritual life and was committed to daily prayer and the reading of scripture; I felt most alive when I was reminded of God’s Word during the week and when I was in communion with the Lord. However, after entering Duke Divinity and being bombarded with the amount of work I was required to do, I stopped praying and reading scripture outside of my weekly requirements. Reading the Bible went from being a life-giving experience, to a tedious chore.
Around that time my best friend, Josh, encouraged me to start attending Morning Prayer with the Anglicans and Episcopalians. Every morning before classes started a faithful group would gather in Goodson Chapel and go through the Book of Common Prayer in order to orient themselves for the day ahead. In the beginning I reluctantly made my way into the sanctuary every morning with Josh by my side and we went through the motions of Morning Prayer. As the token Methodists, we were not used to the constant physical movements of worship but we quickly caught on: We knelt on the floor during the confession, we stretched our palms facing upwards during the pardon, and we made the sign of the cross whenever the trinity was mentioned. For months we were there everyday and before I recognized it, Morning Prayer became essential to my way of life; I needed to pray with others to start my day, I needed to commune with the Lord before I dove into his Word for class. Additionally, Morning Prayer began to manifest itself in my life outside of that early service — I found myself making the sign of the cross at church on Sunday mornings and I was the only one at my United Methodist Church who would kneel on the floor during confession before communion (I got a lot of stares for that).
Sometimes the physical routines of prayer, the embodiment of time with God, can help us through those times of dry spirituality. Even if I can sense that I am not fully invested in my prayers, when my knees hit the ground and I kneel before the Lord I am drawn back to the importance of what I am doing. Even if I can sense that I am distracted during worship, when my fingers make the sign of the cross I am drawn back to the intense gravity of all who have crossed themselves in reverence throughout the centuries. There is just something incredible about physically embodying our prayers that helps to keep me focused and thankful for the Lord our Maker.
This week I encourage you to try something new in your prayer life. Instead of sitting in the same chair at your home, or kneeling by your bed, trying praying in a new way. Experience kneeling on the ground to praise the Lord, or bow down and physically move in a way that helps to enhance your spirit. Try to live out your prayer life in a way that is different, faithful, and physical.