We are finishing up the part of the year that walks us systematically through the way God has revealed himself to us in Christ (Advent through Trinity Sunday—Hymn 235 gives us a nice summary, see below). Each liturgical season has its characteristic spirituality. The Lenten fast and the Easter feast are the center and pinnacle. We are now entering the six-month Trinity season. Trinity reflects the challenge to remain faithful over the long haul—to not to drift into bad habits and unfaithfulness during a season in which there is no particular wake-up call.
The best way to avoid the drift away from God is to establish faithful patterns of prayer and spiritual discipline. Just about everything we do well we do according to some habit or pattern. Few people stay in good physical shape without an exercise routine, or maintain their skill level in an activity without habitual practice. Anglican faith and practice is Benedictine in nature. It reflects the Rule or pattern of prayer established by St. Benedict—adapted to life in a parish instead of life in a monastery. It is based on a three fold Rule of prayer: Participation in the Eucharist; praying the “daily offices” of Morning and Evening Prayer; and personal prayer, ranging from conversation with God, to meditation about God, to silent contemplation.
Sometimes people say they do not have time for prayer—that Rule is too big of a commitment. This is never true. We always do what we truly want to do. We grumble about 15 minutes of prayer, but have no problem with a 2 or 3 hour video game, sporting event or show. It is one’s personal choice to decide not to reorient one’s life around prayer, but this will be a conscious choice not to live the Christian life—which depends upon prayer. We feel a constant pull away from our prayer precisely because that is where the spiritual battle takes place. When we give up prayer, we concede that battle at the very beginning.
There are four practical points of emphasis that can us help us maintain our Rule of prayer during Trinity season:
One, commit to praying the daily offices. This is often the missing element. People go to church on Sunday and talk to God with some regularity, but are often missing the objective daily offering to God of prayer and praise. Yes, I know you get up early and don’t have time. I know the kids distract you. Yes, I know that Evening Prayer is hard to fit in at the end of a busy day. But if you want to, you will. And if you do, when you look back six months from now, you will be glad you did.
Two, practice some form of fasting at least one day a week. We observe Wednesday as a day of prayer and fasting for mission. It is of tremendous spiritual benefit to practice NOT doing and eating some of your favorite things one day each week. It helps us to detach from the consumer pattern and develop self control. You will see the benefit over the long run.
Three, create some space for silence in your life each day—time when every noisy thing is turned off. Even 15 or 30 minutes will make a big difference.
Four, connect with other Christians regularly for prayer or Bible study or just to hang out and talk. As the old story goes, the coal that sits alone burns out, but the coal that is connected to other coals burns brightly.
If you do things things habitually for the next sixth months as part of your Rule, Trinity season will be a time of spiritual progress—rather than a gradual drift away from faith.
Advent tells us Christ is near;
Christmas tells us Christ is here!
In Epiphany we trace
All the glory of his grace.
Then three Sundays will prepare
For the time of fast and prayer,
That, with hearts made penitent,
We may keep a faithful Lent.
Holy Week and Easter then
Tell who died and rose again:
O that happy Easter Day!
“Christ is risen indeed,” we say.
Yes, and Christ ascended, too,
To prepare a place for you;
So we give him special praise,
After those great forty days.
Then he sent the Holy Ghost
On the day of Pentecost,
With us ever to abide:
Well may we keep Whitsuntide.
Last of all, we humbly sing
Glory to our God and King,
Glory to the One in Three,
On the Feast of Trinity.