Any year-long experiment is bound not to go smoothly through its entirety. At least I hope that's true, since this one was sailing along until my wife said these words to me on Christmas night: I don't want to be married to a monk, I want to be married to you!...Your experiment is getting on my nerves.
And I admit, she said that for good reason. It turns out that having my prayer book open on the table next to me and trying to discretely turn pages while my family was digging into their stockings on Christmas morning in order to squeeze my morning prayer in was a bad idea. Really bad. It might go down with some of my worst.
I quickly realized it was a bad idea when she gave me a look after she saw me doing it, not because she gave me a look, but because I knew it was missing the point. Much of the reason I'm doing this experiment is because of my conviction that praying in these ways will help me be more attentive to God and to those around me- especially my family- in every kind of moment in our lives. Yet there I was on Christmas morning flipping pages rather than paying full attention to my family. (I knew it had been a really bad idea that night when she admitted she's fantasized about ways to go about hiding my prayer book from me. If things ever get to that point, this experiment will come to a crashing end.)
Family is where the rubber meets the road in this project for me. I hope to be doing this ultimately for the benefit of others- hoping that these are means of planting me more firmly in God's kingdom, and that it will therefore make my existence in this world more beneficial for others- most of all these others who live under this roof with me. If I come to the end of this year and my wife isn't glad that I've done this experiment (or before then, if I ever have to go out and buy another copy of my prayer book because she's followed through on her fantasy and hidden my current one), if it doesn't help me become a better, more loving and attentive husband and father, this experiment of testing my own advice to its farthest reasonable limits will clearly not have been successful. (But in the book's defense, nowhere in Live Prayerfully do I offer advice that comes anywhere close to flipping through a prayer book while your family is opening Christmas presents. That isn't even included in the "farthest reasonable limits" of what I recommend. That's just an example of the centuries-old practice of engaging in something "spiritual" while completely missing the point of why we do so.)
So, thankfully, my wife was very gracious to me in my foolishness. And, thankfully, it gave me a humiliating story to post about myself as part of this project. But I hope that whatever I post at the end of this year will be very different- both in my family's feelings about it and in my discretion in how to go about trying to pray in these ways throughout this year.
[This is 11th post from A Year of Living Prayerfully.]
Something I prayed on Christmas Day (after the stockings, at a more appropriate time, while my wife wasn't looking):
O God, you make us glad by the yearly festival of the birth of your only Son Jesus Christ: Grant that we, who joyfully receive him as our Redeemer, may with sure confidence behold him when he comes to be our Judge; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen (A prayer for Christmas Day from The Book of Common Prayer)