Dear Friends in Christ:
August is upon us and I am amazed at the speed that summer has been traveling this year. I trust you have had a blessed, fulfilling summer with family and friends and enjoying the beautiful weather that God has blessed us with.
In this month’s pastoral article, I would like to share with you an article taken from The Unofficial United Methodist Handbook entitled, “Three Essential Spiritual Rituals.” You will find that if you follow these spiritual rituals faithfully, you will grow in grace and in your faith in Christ! Here we go!
“A spiritual ritual is a routine for building one’s faith. Ritual involves action, words, and often images that work together to center one’s daily life in Jesus Christ. Medical studies show that people who pray regularly throughout the day suffer less stress, have lower incidence of heart disease, and live longer on average than those who do not.
- Morning Devotions: Directly upon awakening, turn your attention first to God. The silence and solitude available in the morning hours are ideal. Try to make prayer the first activity of your day. If necessary, set your alarm to sound 15 minutes early to give yourself time. Begin with thanks and by remembering God’s constant presence. Identify events you anticipate in your day and how you feel about them. Ask God to provide what you need for that day. Pray on behalf of other people. Consider keeping a list of names tucked inside your Bible or devotional book.
- Mealtime Grace: Human beings naturally pause before a meal. Use those moments to give thanks. Consider establishing mealtime grace as a household ritual. When eating in public, be considerate of others, but do not abandon your ritual. Once your meal is assembled and ready to eat, take time before praying to gather your thoughts and call an appropriate prayer to mind. Many people pray a memorized prayer at mealtimes. Consider occasionally departing from your regular prayer with a spontaneous one.
- Evening Prayer: the other daily rituals you perform in the evening, like brushing your teeth or letting the cat out, create a natural structure for evening prayer. Establish a regular time, such as sunset or bedtime, and commit to it. Confess wrongdoing and ask for forgiveness. Tell God about the joys and sorrows of the day. Ask for help with the sorrows and give thanks for the joys. Identify the good things about the day. On bad days, find at least one thing to give thanks for. Consider using a devotional as a guide and companion. Think about involving other members of your household in this ritual. Evening prayer particularly can be enhanced through sharing. When children are included, consider tracing the cross on their foreheads and say a brief blessing as part of the ritual.
God bless you richly my dear friends. If I can ever be of any spiritual assistance to you, please do not hesitate to contact me. I leave you with these words from the pen of the Apostle Peter in Second Peter 2:18: “…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
May the peace of Christ be yours. Amen and Amen!
Yours in Christ,