I am in a cohort of people being trained to be a church coach for evangelism and vitality in our Conference. One of our projects together is reading the book, "Unbinding Your Heart" by Martha Grace Reese which is a forty day commitment to daily prayer, and weekly meetings to pray for one another, and talk about how our prayer lives are moving (or not) as well as talk about some of the ideas in the book. The "unbinding" series is part of a larger "real-evangelism series" written for mainline denominations that are wanting to embrace growth as a mission, and learning the practice of invitation rather than relying on the attraction approach of growth. (If we are doing what we do, people will be attracted to us and come). Outreach is a whole other topic, and I digress.
The book is intended for congregations--for forty days, a congregation cancels all meetings, and instead, they work through this book--personally and corporately in small groups that meet weekly. I understand that congregations that have gone through this process are markedly transformed. Understandable. They are praying for one another and the world in a focused, regular way.
Gay Reese's reflections are really wonderful, I have to say. They are accessible for anyone, and yet deep. They remind the reader/prayer of mindfulness in everyday life, and she provides an array of scripture to read and reflect upon. My prayer life has become incredibly consistent by using this tool, and I have to say I am beginning to be much more "all of me here in the moment" than I ever have.
It's a little scary, too. I am learning that I am the kind of person that doesn't easily give up control--she makes the remark that some people are the kind that say "oh, thanks God, for the tip! It all makes sense. So give me back my life now, I can take it from here". OOOhh. I get that. I pray, I receive, and then go on my independent way.
I pray for a heart and life steeped in prayer. But, if this sort of things happen, I better, as Annie Dillard says, get a crash helmet--it is the Creator of the Universe I am being vulnerable to, you know? This is pretty risky.