The recitation of the Twelve Steps was my first introduction to liturgy, though I had no idea of that practice at the time. I didn’t grow up in a church that used the liturgical calendar or shared spoken readings. I did know that my spirit soothed every time I practiced a moment of silence. I felt connected to recovering people worldwide when I imagined that somewhere across the country or across the globe another healing soul was saying the Steps or the Third or Seventh Step prayer.
Eventually I joined a body of Christian believers who engaged in liturgical rituals. There is something moving and powerful about communal voices responding to the sacred through thanksgiving and praise, through spoken confession and supplication. The cadence of shared speech reminds me I am not alone.
More recently I’ve become interested in the Daily Office, which includes prayers for different segments of the day. At the encouragement of a dear friend and Bethesda Workshops board member, a few months ago I began listening to various daily prayers written by author and spiritual director Robert Benson (In Constant Prayer – Ancient Practices). Almost every morning and many evenings I enjoy a calming voice that ushers me gently into a deeper presence of the divine.
This practice of listening has prompted a creation of my own version of morning prayer, which I now offer daily at the end of my quiet time:
Lord, open my eyes that I may see what you want me to see today. Open my ears that I may hear You and others. Open my hands that I may have the grace to receive Your gifts and give to others. Guide my feet that I will walk with You through this day. Guard my mouth that my words will bring only honor to You. Open my heart that I will not judge myself or others. Infuse my breath that I may feel Your presence always. Amen.
Whatever your daily office or liturgy, it is a humbling and wise practice to start the day with the posture of prayer.
Marnie C. Ferree