Personal spiritual growth can flourish despite limited personal freedoms, if we learn from aspects of monastic practices, suggests Diocesan Prayer and Spirituality Co-ordinator Revd Canon Paul Maybury.
Addressing the physical confinement and limitations experienced by so many at this time, he writes:
“If, like monks and nuns, we can see our new restrictions as a gift to us, then perhaps something of the rhythm of the monastery might be nurturing to us.
“In this new time, Christians around the world are finding the rich stream of monasticism to be a helpful resource to keep personal prayer and spirituality alive in the home.
“Monks and nuns give up their freedoms to devote themselves to Christian Community and in that Christian Community to a life of Service and Prayer.
“Their experience is that in the giving up of freedoms they receive back, in return, much more than they gave up.”
Canon Paul said it was not necessary to adhere to set rules in order to receive benefit.
“We may not want to set aside seven times each day to pray, as many monks and nuns do, but perhaps we might choose to punctuate our days with short periods of intentional prayer.
“Prayer that may not involve many words. Prayer that may involve reading the Bible and listening to what God might be saying to us.
“Monks and nuns do this in their chapels and we can each do it in our own particular space where we expect to meet with God - maybe a particular room or a particular chair. “Maybe with a candle. Maybe with a notebook to write down what God is saying to you. Maybe with music. Maybe in silence.
“Not necessarily for more than a few moments to begin with but maybe naturally getting longer as you become more relaxed and comfortable.”
Canon Paul said there are plenty of resources available on the diocesan website and Digital Learning Platform (DLP).
“If you find anything elsewhere that would be helpful to add, please send an email with any links to spirituality [at] leeds.anglican.org.
“Please also email that address if you have questions or are looking for support in deepening your prayer and here is a prayer you might use as a starting point”:
I am, O God, a jumbled mass of motives.
One moment I am adoring you, and the next I am shaking my fist at you.
I move between mounting hope, and deepening despair.
I am full of faith, and full of doubt.
I want the best for others, and am jealous when they get it.
Even so, God, I will not run from your presence.
Nor will I pretend to be what I am not.
Thank you for accepting me with all my contradictions.