Climb Aboard the Soul Feast Train
“Gracious God, thank you for the gift of today…” This is the opening line of an anonymous prayer I found at a Catholic retreat center about three years ago when I visited the gift shop while staying there as I read ordination exams. (See my last blog for more info on that topic).
Since then, I have tried to make it the first line of the prayer I pray each night when I crawl into bed. I use it as a way to remind me of my day, to focus on where I experienced God. I must admit that sometimes those words are difficult to pray – some days don’t feel like a gift. But more often than not, I truly am grateful for the day and use this time as an opportunity for reflection and self-examination.
My day typically begins with scripture and prayer. I am nearing the end of my second year in my plan to read through the Bible in three years. I deliberately slowed my pace this time, trying to absorb more of what I read. I keep a log of a verse that speaks to me for each chapter that I read. I’m not as good about remembering these teachings as I would like; I still have far to go in this discipline.
Praying for others is a gift God has given to each of us. One tool that has helped me do this more consistently is to keep a list of those for whom I pray. I review it periodically to remind me of those I have promised or offered to pray for.
These are the foundational blocks in my personal worship. Corporate worship is an event I look forward to each week. I think if we offered a worship service every day, I would probably attend. Music is an important component for me as we offer songs of prayer and praise, as we learn scripture and theology. I especially enjoy when an old, familiar hymn takes on new meaning in light of what has been going on in my life.
So, why did I outline these four spiritual practices? This December, Pinnacle will be offering its first all-church book study during Advent using the book Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson. It is a book that changed my life, not just my beliefs, but my behavior. During this four-week study, we will break into small groups and share thoughts on the first four chapters which are:
Hunger and Thirst for the Spirit: The Spiritual Yearning of Our Time
Chewing the Bread of the Word: The Nature and Practice of Spiritual Reading
Communication and Communion with God: Approaches to Prayer
Gathered in the Spirit: Our Common Worship
The final five chapters will be our topic during Lent. Grab a friend and find a time convenient for you. Discuss these topics in your small group, then with others who are part of another group. Share what you are learning and how your learning has transformed your living. Don’t miss this season to nurture your faith. Contact me to sign up!
I like the rest of the poem, too. Here it is:
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of today.
Refresh me… Invite me…to discover Your Presence in each person that I meet, and every event encountered.
Teach me when to speak and when to listen, when to ponder and when to share.
In moments of challenge and decision attune my heart to the whisperings of Your Wisdom.
As I undertake ordinary and unnoticed tasks, Gift me with simple Joy.
When my day goes well, may I rejoice!
When it grows difficult surprise me with new possibilities.
When life is overwhelming call me to Sabbath moments to restore Your Peace and Harmony.
May my living today reveal your goodness.