Ministry Musings: Experiencing the Ordinary

When I wrote the book Talking in the Dark, I was trying to show the place of prayer in our times of crisis, confusion, and challenge.

But we don’t live “in crisis” all the time.  Most of our days are marked with the familiar signposts of routine and responsibility.  Our lives look and feel “ordinary.”  This is not a bad thing or a sign of failure.  On the contrary, our predecessors in the faith coined a phrase to preserve the sacredness of our daily lives:  ordinary holiness.

That’s where most of us live.  But the fact that we do so does not mean we simply put life on some kind of spiritual autopilot.  If we “cry out to God” in times of challenge, we “converse with God” in times of regular living.  If we seek God’s strength to sustain us in the storm, we seek God’s will to guide us in the familiar.  We pray not only as those talking in the dark, but also as those walking in the light.

It is in the practice of discernment that we discover the ongoing dimensions of prayer—the asking, seeking, and knocking that never end.  It is in discernment that we discover God is as interested in the little things in our lives as the big things.  It is in discernment that we experience the companionship of the risen Christ before and after we walk through the valley of the shadow of death.

This is the journey we are beginning here each week—the journey that allows us to find and follow God’s will in the daily round—the grace which enables us to experience God in the “ordinary.”  That’s why discernment is so important, because it is in the “ordinary” where we spend most of our time.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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