By Rev. Rick Burnette
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:22-23, NRSV
My friend, Gabby, tells me that he wakes up each morning with eager anticipation of what the new day will bring. That’s interesting. I’m not sure what Gabby’s personality classification might be but, unfortunately, Enneagram Six types like me—reliable, troubleshooting, trustworthy—are prone to anxiety. Rather than being inclined to greet the day’s opportunities, my waking brain attempts to address anticipated issues and needs. For me, prayer and meditation are essential for getting past those “what ifs” and to find a centered position from which to engage the remainder of the day. Besides dealing with anxiety, I also contend with prediabetes, making it vital that I maintain a physical exercise regimen. Although my vocation related to community gardening keeps me active, I usually need supplemental physical activity to help keep my blood sugar in balance.
During my 19 years in Thailand, I would see Buddhist monks silently walking their daily predawn rounds through neighborhoods to collect alms of food from local devotees. While humbly receiving food for daily subsistence, monks are engaged in a walking form of meditation. Inspired by such spiritual disciple, and to maintain both my physical and spiritual health, I start each day with a two-mile walk. It is during the first mile or so that I attempt to engage in prayer and meditation. Depending on my mood, the walking prayer is usually meditative, during which I attempt to “listen” to God.
Some days I may need an internal, calming mantra that incorporates attention to breathing to help settle my heart and mind. Other days, I pray through the Lord’s Prayer, applying each phrase of the prayer to the day’s circumstances and needs. And often, my supplications are more like Anne Lamott’s “Help me, help me, help me” prayer. Some mornings are naturally devoted to praise and gratitude, especially as I take in the Florida sky at dawn. But often, my “monkey mind” isn’t so easily tamed, rested or centered. A quote from Father Richard Rohr resonates with my prayer aspirations. In a 2020 New Yorker article describing how he wakes around 5:45 a.m. each day to spend an hour praying wordlessly, Rohr told the reporter, “I’m trying to find my way to yes,” adding that he often wakes up in a state of “no.” May God help us find our daily way to “yes.”
Rev. Rick Burnette is a CBF field personnel serving in Immokalee, FL.
This prayer appears in the 2022-2023 edition of Prayers of the People, the annual prayer guide of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, edited by Rev. Meg Lacy Vega. Download the digital version or order free print copies of Prayers of the People at www.cbf.net/pray.