it stuns me how hard it is to keep up a pattern of daily fixed hour prayer. i've been really busy and i've nearly completely fallen off my pattern of prayer when i arrive at work, at lunch, and in late afternoon before i leave. there have been too many days when the most i accomplished in terms of intentional prayer time is when i've hit the pillow late in the evening, uttering under my breath " the lord almighty grant us a quiet night and peace at the last. amen."
just now i prayed the midday office before i go to lunch. i stopped, closed my office door, sat in my 'guest chair' and opened my copy of the divine hours: prayers for springtime (ed. phyllis tickle). it is that time of year when i try to regain practices of body and soul that help focus my life on essentials. biking to work is one, and prayer is another. they go together, body and soul, and biking and prayer help me hold them together.
when i opened up to the midday office, i was delighted to find the call to prayer was one of my favorite, taken from psalm 103:1 "bless the lord, o my soul, and all that is within me, bless god's holy name." i love that and know a sung version of it that is fun to sing in a repetitive harmony with a group. the mundane daily activities of work--dealing with office paperwork, emails, planning, etc.--all somehow seem to gain a clarity of focus through the break to pray. what is it, then, that is important about what i'm doing? what is it, therefore, that matters from what i'm doing? that those gifts and opportunities that god has given me be turned towards god's purposes so that in my living, my working, i bless the lord.
so this is why i think fixed hour prayer is so important to living faith as a way of life. such pauses, it turns out, transfigure the day. they transfigure the work. they transfigure the people with whom i interact. i don't use the word transform, but rather transfigure, for this reason: to transform is to change something or someone completely, and for that reason i think the word is overused. really, we rarely transform something. my daily prayer certainly doesn't change my day completely. rather, to transfigure something is to see it in a different, holy light. to see the 'soul' present within the materiality of the day, the work, the person. it is a vision that makes of someone or something a more glorious and lovely and true thing.