I spent many years of my childhood in Pakistan, and one of my most lasting memories is that of hearing the Muslim Call to Prayer from neighboring minarets echoing through the cities in which we lived, calling the faithful to stop whatever they were doing, and take time to turn their minds and hearts to God. This happened five times a day. To me, this is an inspiring challenge.
How can we help but be more conscious of the presence of God, and all the good God is, when we stop that often to spend at least ten minutes in prayer?
For me, there are times of the day that, in tune with the movement of the sun, are most natural as times to pray. Sunrise and sunset offer the invitation to stop whatever I am doing, and just absorb the beauty of the beginning or ending of another precious day. It is a perfect time to praise God, to dedicate the day to God, or to reflect on the challenges and blessings of the day that is ending. It is a way to sanctify time, and it helps me keep from getting lost in my own agenda and distractions.
This past week, I found a beautiful hymn, dating all the way back to the fourth century, by St. Ambrose of Milan. It offers in beautiful words a prayer of the heart, which I offer in turn to you for your inspiration.
O splendor of God's glory bright, from light eternal bringing light;
Thou Light of life, light's living spring, true Day, all days illumining.
Come, Holy Sun of heavenly love, shoer down Thy radiance from above,
and to our inward hearts convey the Holy Spirit's cloudless ray.
And we the Mother's help will claim, and sing the Spirit's glorious name;
Her powerful aid we will implore, that we may stand to fall no more.
Be hallowed this and every day, let trust now be our morning ray,
and faithful love our noonday light, and hope our sunset, calm and bright.
O God, with each returning morn Thy image to our hearts is borne,
O may we every clearly see our Savior and our Friend in Thee.