Being Countercultural with the Workday
Eugene Peterson writes in his bookÂ Working the Angles:
“In short, the Psalms provide the language, the aspirations, the energy for the community as it comes together in prayer, and they then call into being and are formative forÂ theÂ activities of prophets, wise men and historians. The Psalms initiate; the prophets follow. Â The inner action of prayer takesÂ precedenceÂ over the outer action ofÂ proclamation.Â
The implication of this for pastoral work is plain: it begins in prayer. Â Anything creative, anything powerful, anything biblical, inso far as we are participants in it, originates in prayer. Pastors who imitate the preaching and moral action of the prophets without also imitating the prophets’ deep praying and worship so evident in the Psalms are an embarassment to the faith and an encumbrance to the church.“
Woah, what do you really think Eugene? Â I’ve started taking about an hour of personal time meditating on the scriptures and writing in my journal in my day off. This week, as I was spending some time thinking and praying I realized that I need to be much, much more intentional about setting aside “little sabbaths” in my work day. Â
Throughout the course of a day I can get really focused on work and often I’ll work straight through lunch without even thinking about it. Â Some might call this fasting. Â But last time I checked, fasting had to be intentional, not accidental.
Anyways, after reading the book, Praying with the Church (my thoughts on it here)Â about a year ago I have constantly felt like some kind of prayerÂ rhythmÂ would be really healthy for my overbooked life. Â I love the idea ofÂ praying the hoursÂ because it is just so counter-cultural. Â (Praying the hours basically means stopping at set times of the day to follow liturgical prayers which are mostly built off the Psalms. Â One such guide that I highly recommend isÂ The Divine HoursÂ compiled by Phillis Tickle). Â
In such a fast paced world where we are constantly on the run, I feel as if one of the ways we can be “in the world and not of the world” is for us to stop what we are doing at set times and pray. Â Sit. Be still. Regather our life, and in a sense, remind ourselves what we are living for. Â This would allow us intentionally to fashion our work day around God, rather than God around our work day.
Now, to be honest, I’ve not been so good at “keeping the hours.” Â I am not suprised though. Â If you think about it, it’s a fairly big change to make. Â One of my problems is that I have always started with great ambitions. Â So, on Tuesday I felt called to try something new. Â Something a little more simple. Â Something doable, yet hard at the same time. Â
I need to share it publically so that I can’t just give up too quickly.
Here’s what I am going to do: For one week, starting yesterday, I am going to live a new rhythm to my day. Â
My goal is to read three psalms a day.Â
- One when I first sit down to work in the morning.Â
- One when I break for lunch. Â
- One before I end work for the day. Â
This is doable, but not easy. I’ve already learned that to be true.Â Yesterday I read my morning Psalm. Â Then proceeded to outright forget the other two. Â It wasn’t till I was laying in bed falling asleep that I remembered my forgetfulness. Â
Taking a fresh start today. Â
So far I’m 1 for 1.
Anyone else want to join me? Â I’m only on Psalm 2…Â