You’re Not Alone: Prayer Tools
By Jason Koon
Day 1 of 5: The Lectionary
God isn’t a God of disorder but of peace.
-1 Corinthians 14:33 (CEB)
As a young man with undiagnosed Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, I often felt pinned under the condemning weight of those words from 1 Corinthians 14. My mind is never at peace; I traffic in disorder. Prayer is a struggle for most of us, but for me, it often seemed insurmountable. My thoughts would swirl in my head, pulling me in a hundred different directions at once, and then the condemnation would settle in. God is not a God of confusion. What does that mean for someone like me who can never seem to escape it?
I was finally diagnosed at the age of thirty-seven, and then the process of admitting my weaknesses and learning to advocate for myself began. I had spent the previous twenty years in a faith tradition that largely dismissed rote prayer and other liturgical worship elements. I needed the courage to admit that I was not alone. That it’s okay to need to think creatively about my personal spiritual practices and embrace the kinds of structure that others avoid.
I found that structure in the historical liturgies of several different denominations. Armed with these newly discovered tools, I had finally found the freedom and creativity to embrace the order and spontaneity of personal spiritual practices.
Lectionaries are foundational tools in most liturgical traditions. There are almost as many lectionaries as there are denominations, but they all have the same basic purpose and outline, breaking down sacred text into digestible daily readings. A Psalm, a few verses from an Old Testament book, an Epistle, and a Gospel passage are rotated through in the same order year after year. This can be helpful for anyone desiring to immerse themselves in Scripture, but for a non-neuro-typical like me, it has been life saving.
Lectionaries Provide Pattern
We all exist in a series of ebbs and flows. From daily work-home patterns, to those that take place over longer periods—like seasons, holidays, and stations in life—we all live in pattern. Lectionaries bring this pattern into our spiritual disciplines. With the lectionary, I no longer have to figure out what I’m going to read or wonder what devotional program I’m going to fail at in the coming year. God is a God of order, and a lectionary can help me infuse that divine order into my personal spiritual practice.
Lectionaries Promote Grace
We all get behind in our spiritual rhythms. How many of us have given up on the New Year’s devotional programs in January because we were so far behind, we felt like we’d never catch up? This is the beauty of a lectionary. You can’t fall behind because, like God, it never changes. If I miss a day, or even a whole month, it’s right there where I left it. I literally cannot fail because I can jump right back in without missing a beat. It becomes life-giving and freeing to know this is also true about the God to whom it points.
Whatever struggles we face and whatever tools we use, we are not alone. We are all seeking a God who is a God of order. I believe God will give us the tools we need to bring order and peace into our personal spiritual practice, even for those of us who specialize in chaos.
Pray for God to give you the tools you need to find order and peace in your personal spiritual practice and in every area of your life.
Pray, asking God to help you respond to your own weaknesses as God responds: with compassion and understanding.