Early Morning Prayer: always a fruitful time

Pastor Mike Danner from Metamora Mennonite Church and I meet every Wednesday morning for prayer at 6 AM, which can be pretty insane depending on the intensity of both of our schedules. Yet I appreciate these few moments on Wednesday mornings more and more as we continue moving through the book Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, and Enuma Okoro.  It’s a liturgy written for evangelicals, or people who have never really used liturgy before.  It is very simple, yet profound in its convictions when you do it with people.

The goal of the book would be for people to meet twice a day for prayer.  Some of the words to pray are set out in the book and help guide the thoughts of the people involved.  The written text centers around the church year which starts with Advent in December and moves through the church holidays, including Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Easter.  Other pieces of each day’s morning or evening prayers are much more open-ended so that the people can speak about what is happening in their lives and also pray about what’s happening.  For example, in each day of morning prayer, two texts are written from scripture (one OT and one NT) that the people would read together.  Mike and I use these times to discuss how we think the scriptures are related and what God might be saying to us through the Word, so these few minutes of morning prayer are rather open-ended in comparison to the beginning of the morning prayer session which is often a call and response from leader to people who are meeting.

So in today’s morning prayer, a quote was used from Basil of Caesarea, a fourth century bishop and monk.  He said the following: “Are you not a robber, you who consider your own that which has been given you solely to distribute to others?  This bread which you have set aside is the bread of the hungry; this garment you have locked away is the clothing of the naked; those shoes which you let rot are the shoes of him who is barefoot; those riches you have hoarded are the riches of the poor.”

I was deeply challenged by these thoughts as I considered all of the ways that God has blessed me, yet I do not often think to bless other people.  I got a winter coat for Christmas that was much thicker than my original coat, and I thought as I opened the present, “Now what do I do with that other coat that’s hanging in the closet?”  I also ask these questions when I look in my closet and I have 5-6 pairs of pants, many shirts, and many other things that I do not necessarily need or want.  In fact, I tend to where the same pants and shirts over and over again because they are most often the most comfortable clothes that I have.

So I read this quote from Basil, and I wonder how I have hoarded what I think are my riches when they are really God’s riches and he has commanded me to take care of those around me.  Not only those, though, that are necessarily in direct proximity, but I have been commanded to do the best that I can to bless people across the world if possible.  God has blessed us in order that we can be a blessing to others, not only American others, but others from every nationality, race, and religion.  And when we truly do this and realize that we can live a much happier life with all of that stuff gone, I think that we have moved one step closer to the heart of God, who is a God of the poor, oppressed, hopeless, and abused.  How could we steal from the very people that He often most identifies with in Scripture?

Please post your comments and concerns as the Spirit leads you to do so.

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~ by randallkoehler on March 9, 2011.

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