Back at the end of December, 2020, when I sensed a nudge from God to start a daily prayers video for 2021, I confess that I balked a bit. Well, maybe a lot. The idea of preparing and videoing a daily prayer service for each week, Monday through Friday, felt overwhelming. I didn’t think many folks would be interested, so I wondered at the logic of putting so much time and effort into such a project. One thing I have learned in life, though, is that if God has an idea it is a good one. I’m glad I listened.
We are now one-third of the way through the year, and I am still surprised at how many of you are tuning in and participating through these videos in a daily act of guided prayer. I’m also surprised at how much I am enjoying doing the videos—at least now that I have tamed the techno-demons that tried to prevent this project from succeeding. I find a sense of peace coming over me when I sit down to record each day.
The services are contemplative, meaning that they move along slowly with times of silence, especially after each reflection question. In each service, you will experience prayer, Scripture readings, a chance to reflect on questions based on the Scriptures, and a short devotional reading. All of this comes from a lovely little book called A Guide to Prayer for All God’s People by Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck (though the reflection questions and long prayer are developed by me).
In the Old Testament readings, anytime the word Lord is used for God, I substitute the name True Life. This is because in English Bible translations when we see the word Lord, that itself is a substitution for the Hebrew name God gives God’s self in Exodus 3, which is Yahweh. The Israelites developed a fear of speaking the name of God and so began to believe that the name should not be used. Since Yahweh means, best we can tell, “I am” or “I will be what I will be,” I’ve come to see that as meaning that God is what True Life is like—loving, compassionate, merciful, just, etc. I also find that calling God True Life is a wonderful reminder to me that I will find my true life by imitating the ways of God.
If you’ve not tried these online videos yet, I invite you to do so. They aren’t for everyone. Some folks aren’t comfortable with times of silence. The pace may be too slow for some. But if you give them a chance, you may find that they begin to shape your days with a sense of peace that will keep you more focused on God’s presence throughout the day.
The videos are scheduled to be released at 6 a.m. each day, Monday through Friday, and can be accessed through the St. James Facebook page or the St. James YouTube channel. May they bless you as much as they continue to bless me.