This week on Facebook, I was bombarded with an ad for a type of journal that promises success through goal setting and claims to be based on the habits of “real life, most successful professionals.” I was eventually persuaded to click on the link when one of the pictures displayed a beautiful leather bound book. What can I say, as an artist and journal-writer, I love a nicely bound blank book.
I was astonished to find this particular journal (bear in mind, its aim is to make one more professionally productive and successful), begins and ends the day with asking the user to list three things they are grateful for. That sounds a lot like prayer to me. I read on. Sure enough, there is time for reflection on the day built in!
What! I thought, these marketers must have found the Daily Examen prayer from the practice of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and reworked it to be used as a reflection on the work day. This company is selling the idea that people should make space in their day, morning and evening, to be quiet, grateful and reflective. They talk about “freedom in structure.” I thought of the daily office, prayed morning and evening the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. I was utterly bowled over. They’re selling what we know to be a free gift from God. The gift of prayer.
Jesus patterns for us a life of prayer and thanksgiving. The Bread of Life who was thankful for His daily bread (Matt. 15:36), who taught his disciples to pray, and give thanks for their daily bread (Luke 11:1-4). Jesus who thanked God for always hearing him (John 11:40-42). Perhaps the one we know best: Jesus who became the Passover Lamb, giving thanks to God and breaking bread (Matthew 26:25).
You may be aware of the Canada Prays project. It guides people through seven weeks of prayer between Thanksgiving and Advent. On October 30 it guides us into prayers of Oblation: “God of vision, I offer you . . .”
Something for us all to think about as we enter into the time when we reflect on what God has given us, and what we are able to give in the coming year, to support the ministry of our church.