The coffee shop is loud. The cursor blinks on the blank page of the paper I should be writing. I sip my Earl Grey tea, slowly at first and then faster as it cools, hoping for a fleeting bit of motivation before I reach the bottom of the mug. The semester is not even three weeks old. I am weary.
Six o’clock. I clang my tea mug in the dish bin. I pack my computer and the wee notebook that contains my life. It is time for prayer.
Walking into the living room, I breathe in deeply. Peace. Prayer. I curl into my couch corner—the place I sit every week. In this corner I have felt joy alongside weariness, and hope despite sadness. This is my prayer corner. We pass around prayer books, printed hymnals, and the Bible. When the candle is lit, we pray.
“Seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns deep darkness into the morning, and darkens the day into night; who calls for the waters of the sea and pours them out upon the surface of the earth: The Lord is his name” (Amos 5:8).
Forty-five minutes later, I walk out of the living room. I breathe in deeply, this time the crisp air fills my lungs. It is dark now, as I go home for supper, reading, and rest. I am weary, but I am also renewed.
Every Tuesday and Thursday night, I sit, stand, and kneel with brothers and sisters in prayer. Together we bring our prayers and petitions before the Lord of universe. In the physicality of movement the structure of ancient words guide us and the Daily Office Scriptures teach us. Kneeling, we confess our sins. Standing, we sing praise with happy voices. Sitting, we read the day’s Psalm responsively, verse-by-verse. Quietly, we turn to supplication. Throughout the liturgy we experience that we are loved by God and by each other. As I release my burdens and cares, God lightens my soul and renews my strength.
Prayer has rarely been an easy discipline for me, especially when I am weary or on my own. I need others. Increasingly, I depend on the liturgy in the Book of Common Prayer. There is peace in the structure, something to focus my attention on apart from my weariness. The centuries old words keep on being true. There is communion, with God and with each other. Friends poke me awake if sleep threatens to overtake me. Though I may be weary, I breathe in deeply—I am not alone.
I have attended the Evening Prayer service from the very beginning of these harried two years of graduate school. By Thursday nights I am weary from going to lectures, working an office job, teaching classes, and doing homework. I am faced with two more days full of homework and life chores squeezed in somehow. Then, it is six o’clock. It is time for prayer.