Praying in a Variety of Forms
The Rule of Life, Week 3
by Adam White
We will use a variety of forms of prayer
- From the MWF Rule of Life
The wonderful thing about prayer is that every person will bring to it her or his own unique emphasis, style, and rhythm. Bringing these individual practices into a house or group of persons who come together in prayer offers an intriguing and, at the same time, challenging space to embrace. Questions begin to arise like, “How do I personally and passionately connect to God while sharing with others?”
There is No Such Thing as ‘The Perfect Liturgy’
For six years I had the wonderful opportunity to live in the Dietrich Bonhoeffer House in East Dallas. The first four members of the house were three fellow seminary students and myself. One of the housemates was keen on exploring a book of liturgy that would serve as our daily prayer practice for the next three years. The liturgy offered some very important things for the formation of our daily prayer time–structure, consistency, and familiarity. The issue, though, came in never parting with the liturgy to explore new modes of prayer. Eventually the liturgy became somewhat stagnant because our attitude in approaching the text became familiar, consistent, and structured. The problem was not with the liturgy, but with our collective approach to the text. Our personal identities as creative, deep, and vulnerable individuals were not given the room to venture and try something new through our prayer time. The fact was, we needed to explore something new. We needed to own the freedom that moved us to feel the life-giving presence of Christ in the room. No one book or single piece of liturgy can evoke that for a group of diverse, creative, and beautifully complicated human beings!
The reality was that we needed to allow for a mutual space where each person could lead and express how they individually connected to the God while, at the same time, experiencing a shared connection with the other housemates. The freedom that came with exploring our individuality eventually allowed us to share, with sincere passion, how each of us diversely connected to God. How a house or group chooses to name and unpack their differences gives way to a deeper acknowledgment of feeling the presence of God through prayer.
Vulnerability as a Foundation to Prayer
Ultimately, what I have come to understand from my time living at Bonhoeffer is that creating a mutual space where a group of people can be open and vulnerable with one another is foundational to exploring a life of prayer. Human relationships are fragile things. Such a foundation will help the many different transitions and experiences that a house or group will inevitably face. We worship and seek to offer space to a vulnerable God. God performed the most vulnerable act in history by coming in human form to understand and express love that was humanly being distorted and restricted at that time. How can I, as a person, seek to become vulnerable as a means of giving mutual space to others in my house, in my faith community, and in the wider community? How can this be done through my personal and corporate prayer life? These are the questions we need to explore as we openly struggle and grow with one another through prayer.
Invitation to Missional Mindfulness:
What practices, moments, or resources have served as life-giving to your prayer life?
Reflect on sharing prayer within your faith community’s context – where is there room to openly and vulnerably with each other? What steps can be taken to share more openly and vulnerably with others in your faith community?
Adapted from Heath, Elaine, ed. Abide: A Guide to Living in Intentional Community. Missional Wisdom Foundation, 2014.
The Missional Wisdom Foundation Rule of Life
We hope you are enjoying our study of the Missional Wisdom Foundation Rule of Life. This is our last week to focus on The Rule. This way of life continually blesses us in many ways and we hope that you, our Dispersed Community, have been able to share in that blessing. If you would like a very nice, framable copy of the MWF Rule of Life, you can find several options in our Merchandise Store.