I’m excited to be a new monthly contributor to the North American Anglican. Here is my first article, summarizing the changes in my understanding of common and private prayer:
From when I was a teenager, silent mornings of Bible study and prayer rooted my spiritual life. This “quiet time” habit served me well—until I became a mother. And then, it was ripped away from me and I resented it.
Despite efforts to wake up before my children, their infallible instinct that I was awake, plus the creaks of our old house, made this time alone impossible. When we could manage it, my husband would watch our kids so that I could slip away. But it was never enough to fill me up for the demands of life with a toddler and infant. So, in my soul, I raged against my children. Because they were “bad sleepers,” I practically didn’t have a relationship with God anymore.
Of course, I tried to fit prayer and Scripture into the crannies of my day. But, inevitably, it was accidental, serendipitous – not part of the fundamental structure of my life. And, though I knew what Jesus said about not hindering the little children, I felt that they were hindering me.
Nowadays, my children are a little older and sleep a little better, but the fact that I’m not despairing anymore didn’t change because they slept better. To use an image from my unfolded (though clean) laundry, I found that my spiritual life was “inside-out.” The seams and tags were showing. Understanding that common prayer precedes private devotion turned spiritual life the right way out, so that I no longer feel like I must escape from my children in order to love God….