November 2021 - Rector's Ramblings

Travelling light

Many of you will have learned that I walked along the Pilgrims’ Way from Winchester to Canterbury way back in 2004.   At the end of that journey, I reflected upon the advantage of carrying as little as possible.   Clothes and provisions were kept to a minimum, but there was also a need to be very disciplined about books and papers which might otherwise have weighed me down.

It is good to carry with us, not on our backs but in our hearts, some prayers: maybe a structure to help us remember others; maybe some specific texts that we have committed to memory.

On my walk, ‘back in the day’, I chose to pray for people according to a simple daily pattern.   Each day, from Monday to Saturday, I prayed for one of the following: a chosen clergy friend or colleague; a person known to be ill; a person who had been bereaved; a school or a charity; and, in turn, the three sets of godparents to my children and the three children to whom I am myself godparent.  A very simple structure.

The Church of England has also wondered collectively in recent decades as to what we mean by ‘Common Prayer’.   Ours has been an era of increasing diversity in worship.   Is there any common core?   Could we promote a small collection of prayers or texts which all might be encouraged to learn?

Someone has suggested that this ‘knapsack’ might contain the following:

-    The Lord’s Prayer (presumably in your preferred version!);

-    Jesus’ restatement of the Law (love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength, and your neighbour as yourself);

-   The Prayer of St Francis of Assisi (make me an instrument of your peace … );

-    and The Beatitudes from Matthew chapter 5, verses 3-10 (perhaps the hardest of these to learn)

Others might find a favourite hymn or two to be a natural and indispensable choice to carry along life’s road.

None of this replaces the value of praying in the moment, with whatever words come to mind  - as the Spirit may lead you.   However, I wonder if some of us would like a little more structure to our daily praying, or to learn some words that we can recall regularly and wherever we are.

And I wonder … what then would you choose for your devotional knapsack when travelling light?


Andrew Doye               


For anyone wanting to develop the practice of Common Prayer, of regular recurring texts, that become a part of you: how about giving Morning Prayer in the parish a look?   (It is presently celebrated in virtual fashion by ‘Zoom’ and I would be delighted to add you to the list of those who might attend).


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