As we celebrate Epiphany in this New Year and find ourselves moving along the days of the Church calendar, let me offer some potentially helpful tools for spiritual nourishment in prayer and hearing Scripture.
We are a people dependent upon and intimately engaged with and by our God. As such, we are a people of prayer. There are many things which might help our prayer lives this year as we commit not simply to praying more (a noteworthy aim), but to praying with greater conformity to our Lord. Here are several resources to aid toward that end:
Pray Scripture: we do well in praying Scripture. We are joining ourselves to the saints, prophets, apostles, and the Lord Jesus himself in praying Scripture. Our prayers are in fact the prayers Spirit-breathed. You might pray Psalms, or prayers of Paul, or prayers of Jesus (John 17). You might even go back to repeating The Lord's Prayer as a repeated meditation conforming us to the Lord himself.
Pray with the Book of Common Prayer (this can be in reading them, memorizing them, or even listening and joining them [see below for a link to my favorite of these]).
Pray in the Spirit: this is not only praying with our minds or the precise words of Scripture, but praying with inexpressible groans of the Spirit (Rom.8), praying in tongues, praying with intercessions that may not find words to express our travails on behalf of ourselves, the church, and the world.
Be encouraged in prayer by joining others: this can be through finding spaces and persons to pray with in homes or churches. Or perhaps you might find great help in listening to podcasts that offer helps in prayers (Season One of Andrew Ray Williams' podcast "Thinking With the Church" follows along with his helpful devotional book Reconstructing Prayer: Beyond Deconstructing Your Faith)
At its most basic, one will not hear Scripture if one neither reads nor has Scripture read to them. I must note that my choice of "hearing" is not about auditory experience, but taking up the very language of Scripture itself that calls for and facilitates (by the Spirit) faith-ful/filled obedience to what is heard. This is the aim in "hearing" Scripture. This requires some manner of regular immersion within Scripture. A couple of tools I have found helpful over the years are
Reading plans: these could be utilizing the many possible plans on a phone app like YouVersion, online forms for all manner of various Bible reading plans (for example: https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-reading-plan/) or Reading the Bible for Shirkers and Slackers (which I've used several years https://scripture-engagement.org/content/bible-reading-plan-slackers-and-shirkers/).
Podcasts: perhaps you are less about sitting and reading and would benefit more from hearing the texts of Scripture read to you. We live in an age with a plethora of possible audio forms for hearing Scripture (https://player.fm/podcasts/Bible-Reading).
Daily Liturgy: immersion in the texts associated by the Church with the movement through the Church year forms us into a people shaped by the good news of God. This might be entered into via finding a congregation with daily liturgies that might pray "the hours" or morning/evening prayers. It might be found in committing to a podcast of such (here is my favorite: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/audio-daily-office-the-trinity-mission/id604914110). It might also be found in making good use of the Book of Common Prayer.
We do well to commit ourselves again as the Church of the Lord Jesus to having our hearts, minds, words, imaginations, hopes, and dreams, desires, and plans all conformed to God's purposes in prayer and in hearing anew the words of the Lord. May you encounter God by his Spirit this year in prayer and hearing Scripture.
What might you add for helping others in prayer and hearing Scripture? We'd love to hear from you!
—Rev. Rick Wadholm Jr., PhD, Canon Theologian of Missio Mosaic and the Anglican Mission, Associate Professor of Old Testament at AGTS