365 times the Bible repeats this command. And those of you familiar with Jewish writings know that repetition means emphasis- like CAPS and exclamation marks. So what is the most repeated command in the Bible?
Do not fear.
And do I ever need to be commanded of this! Today I planned to rush from home, to talent shows, volleyball tournaments, with my three energetic daughters and a husband out of town… but now I get to stay indoors under a predicted foot of snow and 50mph winds. Today, of all days, God has told me not to fear, to stay inside and to reflect on Him.
My fears might be yours: being late or unprepared, unhappy children, wasting time or money…all things largely unimportant and certainly something He can handle.
Insert seven pauses to my daily routine- starting now. We first discovered The Seven Sacred Pauses by Marcrina Widerkehr from one of Jen Hatmaker’s books. The Seven Sacred Pauses guide us through St. Scholastica’s monastic routine. I set my alarm for seven strategic times a day, to pray for different parts of life. First read what the seven pauses focus on and then read below for ideas on how to easily build this into your schedule- no matter where you are or what you’re doing!
Pause# 1- Midnight- The Night Watch
This is a time to advocate for the suffering, abandoned, oppressed and lonely.
It’s like sitting saintly together in the waiting room while a loved one is hanging on by a thread in the ER. There is something powerful about your presence, your attention, the vigil you and Jesus are keeping.
Pause #2- Dawn-
The Awakening Hour
Like a fresh piece of white paper and new crayons, we can start the day with a fresh slate. It’s the moment to pray for resurrection.
What needs to rise in us today? Do we need to awaken to Joy? Forgiveness? Should we pray for the resurrection of love in our hearts for spouse or children? Praise and celebrate God during this time.
Pause #3- Midmorning-
The Blessing Hour
There are two things to focus on during this time. The first is mindfulness of the Spirit’s abiding presence. We invite the Holy Spirit in before the day gets away from us.
Second, The Blessing Hour is about the sacredness of our hands and work. Whatever work looks like: dash to to the office, raising children, working from home, classroom, ministry – we have the spirit to bless us with creativity, composure, inspiration, and love.
Pause #4- Noon- The Hour of Illumination
At midday, the brightest moment of the day, we honor the hour when Jesus embrace the cross. Like him we we commit to giving our lives away. In the spirit of the hour, we pledge to shine brightly, becoming hope to the hopeless and light in the darkness. We pray that God’s love will illuminate the parts of our souls darkened with bitterness or anger or unforgiveness or apathy.
Pause #5- Midafternoon-
The Wisdom Hour
At this time of day, we embrace the themes of surrender, forgiveness and wisdom and the impermanence of this life – including aging, maturing, and death. It is this hour that Jesus died and gave up his spirit (Mark 15:32). This prayer acknowledges that all things are passing. This hours the prayer for wisdom to help us live like we were dying, which we are. Imagine the fearlessness we embrace with this understanding!
With evening approaching, we pray for perspective on this short, fleeting day, they short, fleeting life and accordingly, we hold out forgiveness, release our grudges, and offer a gift to the world, understanding we have only a few years to share them or they will be wasted.
Pause #6- Dusk-
The Twilight Hour
Also called Vespers, this is the much loved evening prayer, read for centuries at the end of the workday as dusk approaches. The main themes are gratitude and serenity as evening lamps are lit. We invite God’s peace as we leave work and transition to dinner. We ask ourselves: What is the greatest blessing of his day? What one accomplishment can I smile over? What chore can I gently lay down until tomorrow? Is there anyone I need to make peace with? The toilet hour is for exhaling, calming our minds, and transitioning into the evening.
We practice being thankful for the gifts of the day, the loveliness of the season we are in. Even with disorder at this hour, we say thank you for employment, for children in home, for gifts. We say thank you for tomorrow, a perfect landing spot for unfinished tasks.
Pause #7- Bedtime- The Great Silence
This prayer focuses on the gentle evaluation of the day. It focuses on the approaching darkness- both protection from some forms and acceptance of others. This is a time to confess and repent. We pray for our brothers and sisters who need our intervention desperately- for those suffering with sickness, death and disease.
On the other hand, we welcome the soft darkness that is exquisitely beautiful and healing. God dims the lights of our weary bodies, making the way for sleep, allowing us to see the stars. There is a beauty to the darkness, the natural rhythm of the earth that invites us to be still and rest. It is time to let go of the day and enter the great silence.
Remembering to Pray
Be anxious about nothing, But in everything with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, submit your request to God. And the peace of God that transcends understanding will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:6-7
If I believe this to be true, why am I not praying and petitioning with thanksgiving?!? Well, below is my simple solution to anyone who needs a little nudge or reminder.
By using the simplest of my cell phone functionalities, I remind myself seven times day that I’m not alone and have a good, strong, big God who loves me. But when your alarm goes off, what should you do?
Read the Psalms
You may love to get your Bible out and read over the suggested passages. The links above get you quickly and easily into the suggested passages.
You might also enjoy simply writing out scripture, reading and reflecting on your own, or coloring a few verses. Print the images above to color, or display, or to inspire your own artistic creation.
Listen to Music
But the easiest way for me to commit scripture to memory is through song. Here is the way that I set my alarm for seven times a day to be reminded of God’s promises and how to pray in that moment.
First, I set my alarms to the seven pause times, named them and opted to have them go off daily.
Second, I searched for songs that directly quoted or were based on the suggested readings. You can search with Google, Spotify or iTunes by simply putting the Psalm # in as a search term. Several options will turn up.
Third, listen to the samples and choose your favorites. Purchase them on iTunes.
Fourth, edit the “sound” so that the purchased song will play as your alarm. I tried to use songs that quoted the scripture and invoked the mood of that time of day. I discovered some great new artists this way as well!
If I believe God keeps his promises and His Word is true, then my cell phone (even a dumb-phone) might be one of the most handy tools in my spiritual life.
Glean For Good is so eager to know how you creatively apply the Seven Pauses. Please share with us your experience and how you modified this for your own personality and style.