To start off the school year, I decided to make the first week a personal prayer week. Although I usually prefer this kind of commitment together with others, like Will's efforts with reading through the Bible, the crazy-ness of getting back to Harrisonburg, starting a new semester teaching, and trying to finish off data collection with my research project make meeting with others regularly a challenge, and creating space for my own time of re-centering a must. For one week each night, I read scripture, hymns, and prayers and the reflections by Dan Epp-Tiessen, and spent time in quiet prayer.
Something about Dan's writing inspires me. I suppose it always has, though. I remember his Old Testament class from CMBC days. I remember his class most, I think, and it greatly influenced my view of the Bible. His love of literature and the Bible, which he talked about as both literature and the Word, made me grateful that he was my advisor. I remember his questions pushing me to look at things in yet a different way.
In the prayer week reflections, Dan pushes me to think differently again. The section on praise as central to the Christian experience sticks in my mind. He highlights the role of praise in centering us on God, and remembering who we are as the created ones not the Creator. He says we praise in defiance of evil and injustice, and that our praise connects us with God. Telling stories of people praising in the midst of suffering and despair, not ignoring the pain, but defying the centrality of pain in our lives, and connecting with God in the midst of it, I begin to see that praise must be the focus of my prayer.
I'm thankful for this week of prayer and continued reflection. I will remember to praise.