I was raised Episcopalian. Reading Aloud from a Prayer Book can be just like singing a song. Sometimes the words are alive. Sometimes you’re just mouthing the words. A lot of evangelicals who fill pews on Sunday probably aren’t feeling every verse on the projection screen, but they’d probably bristle before reading pre-written prayers. Ah, well. Some people think spontaneity equals spirituality.
When I lived in Lithia Springs, I used to say I wished we had more sayings. Or poems. Or prayers to repeat (the same way each time). Somehow, I never wrote any. Sometimes we’d quote lines from songs, sometimes as prayers. One day I used the word “liturgy” with the brothers in Arlington and I think it scared a few people. But any time we made a plan for a meeting, that was a “liturgy”. That’s all the word means.
I can’t stand pews or sermons, but once again tonight I feel drawn to the memory of reading from that prayer book. I felt the same way my junior year of college, when I’d burned out on trying to create my perfect “quiet time with the Lord” every morning. I quit listening to everything the evangelicals were telling me and I went back to St. James downtown. For most of the hour, I heard a gaggle of voices directed at the Lord, not one preacher’s voice directed at my head.
In all of my house church years, I continued to fail, mostly, at quietism. Maybe I’m just too ADD. But I realized recently that making everything still was to feel the Lord moving inside me. (I always thought he was supposed to be very still, too.) Maybe that’s why the thing that always meant the most to me was brothers meetings. When I stood arm in arm with a few other men, and we joined our voices together in singing, then amen-ed each other when talking to Him… there has yet to be anything else on earth that draws me into His presence like that did. I almost always felt the Lord moving in brothers meetings.
Aside from the details of my daily crap, which very much is worth sharing with him, I don’t have much to say to the Lord that I haven’t told him before. There are phrases my wife and I use – not all the time, but at times – that are full of meaning, and they get richer each time even though we say them almost the same way every time. I’d like to have some prayers that are like that, with the Lord.
Aside from that, I miss brothers meetings. The joining of our voices primes the joining of our spirits. And I long to pursue the Lord once again, with some others…