{Practicing Benedict} Prayer and Anything Worthwhile

“My words are addressed to you especially, whoever you may be, whatever your circumstances, who turn from the pursuit of your own self-will and ask to enlist under Christ…” (From the Prologue, the Rule of St. Benedict)

Beginning today, we’re starting a new Wednesday series about what I’ve been learning over the past two years as I’ve studied the Rule of St. Benedict. (Full disclosure! I’m no expert on Benedict or the Benedictine Order. I just love him/them and can’t seem to stop reading books that have “Benedictine” in the title.) 

 from http://www.iconsexplained.com/iec/00170.htm

“Make prayer the first step in anything worthwhile that you attempt…” (Prologue, The Rule of St. Benedict)

What is worthwhile in my life?

Is brushing my teeth? Is struggling to hold plank position on mats at the YMCA? Is stirring the pot of oatmeal?

What about dressing my kids? Buckling them in?

Is it worthwhile to return a call on the phone? Is it worthwhile to return the library books?

To turn my upper arm toward the pharmacist for my flu shot? To chase my three-year-old around the park? To breastfeed my baby while I keep an eye on the little boy swinging sticks with his friend?

That conversation with the neighbor? That smile and small talk with the cashier?

And these things: the need lifted up for my friend’s cancer treatment, the text sent out to the friend when the song on the radio brought her to mind, the silly voices when I read Dr. Seuss aloud before naptime.

There are the reminders: Did you wash your hands?, We look our friends in the eye when we say goodbye, Pick up your legos before you get out your dinosaurs.

And the conversations: Why were you sad at school today? What is your favorite thing about volcanoes? Do you remember which sound starts the word “jelly”?

Everything worthwhile that I attempt. And if you ask me what Benedict has taught me about prayer, it is this: Prayer must be the first step. Sometimes I sit in quiet and offer prayer like whisps of smoke rising from my chest.

More often it’s braided in to all of the worthwhile. Because I’m learning that the life of prayer is not found only in the moments when my thoughts turn to Christ, but in the moments when Christ turns my need to him, whether I know it or not.

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    Yes, dear girl, you’ve got it. That last paragraph – that’s it. Thank you for all of this, each and every word.

  • http://Amyandjack.blogspot.com Amy

    Amen. And prayer for me is sometimes the only way i am able to do half those things at all.

    You’ve read Kathleen Norris, right? I feel sure you must have, but I’ve never seen it mentioned, so on the off chance that you haven’t: The Cloister Walk. And Quotidian Mysteries.

  • http://Amyandjack.blogspot.com Amy

    Amen. And prayer for me is sometimes the only way i am able to do half those things at all.

    You’ve read Kathleen Norris, right? I feel sure you must have, but I’ve never seen it mentioned, so on the off chance that you haven’t: The Cloister Walk. And Quotidian Mysteries.

    • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

      And Norris is – of course! – a Benedictine oblate – out of St. John’s in MN. Both of those books (well…one book and a long essay) are wonderful. Thanks for the reminder – I’m going bookshelf hunting today to find my copies!

      • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

        How I love Kathleen Norris! The Cloister Walk first introduced me to Benedictines and the idea that, “There is time in each day for work, for rest, and for prayer.” Can you believe I still haven’t read Quotidian Mysteries? Once I do, I’m sure I won’t be able to shut up about it. :)

  • http://gravatar.com/livingpalm Tamara @ this sacramental life

    I will henceforth look forward to every Wednesday with extra anticipation. Thank you for your words.

  • http://gravatar.com/livingpalm Tamara @ this sacramental life

    I will henceforth look forward to every Wednesday with extra anticipation. Thank you for your words.

  • Lauren

    wow. ‘the moments when Christ turns my need to him, whether I know it or not.’ i needed that today. i too look forward to each Wednesday!

  • Lauren

    wow. ‘the moments when Christ turns my need to him, whether I know it or not.’ i needed that today. i too look forward to each Wednesday!

  • http://mommymonk.wordpress.com Micha Boyett Hohorst

    Thank you Tamara and Lauren. I’m grateful for your encouragement…

  • Pingback: {Practicing Benedict} Nothing More Important | mama:monk

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  • Ken Livingstone

    I too have just discovered Benedict, through writing an MA assignment on the relevance of Benedictine spirituality to contemporary lay Christians. As well as studying the Rule and how it plays out in 21st century, day by day I’m meditating on the Rule, and you’re right – it’s mind-blowing. I’ll be reading your posts with interest (and may even quote them in my essay!)

    • michaboyett

      Thanks for letting me know, Ken. They’re just my meditations and I’m no expert! But I’d love to know if they resonate with you at all…


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