SOURCE: “Nibbled by Ducks” by Mary Lou Redding from the Upper Room
KEYWORDS: prayer, discipline
Life can sometimes seem like a process of being nibbled to death by ducks. Daily events nip at our heels, distracting us so that we forget to stay connected to God. But there is something we can do. We can train ourselves to see daily tasks, even annoyances and challenges as a call to practice what is often called “mindfulness” -- continual attentiveness to God.
Through the ages, believers have adopted various prayer disciplines to help them in this practice. One of these is “praying the hours” -- stopping at the turning of each hour to reestablish a conscious link with God. Another classic example is Brother Lawrence wrote of feeling God’s closeness as intensely while working in the kitchen as while praying in the chapel. He meditated on God’s words and works whenever his hands were busy. Others turn their mind and spirit to God by praying the Jesus Prayer or another breath prayer or by reciting often a beloved and personally meaningful scripture.
Any of these practices can be adapted to our lives. Thought we may not have a clock chiming each hour, most of us have actions that we repeat several times each day. Each repetition of a familiar task can become a personal “call to prayer.” Those who work at a computer can set the machine to beep or chime on each hour. Those who use the telephone often can use each ring or each occasion of reaching for the receiver to pray, “O God, speak to me and through me” or some similar prayer. Those who are dealing with a behavior that they feel God wants them to change--perhaps worry or impatience--may use each instance of the behavior not as a failure but as an opportunity to turn once again to God. When we are doing tasks to benefit others, we can pray for the recipients or in gratitude for meaningful work. The point is to use the occurrences of each day as reminders to consciously renew our communion with God