The Ordinary Liturgy of Life


“Let us remember that the life in which we ought to be interested is “daily” life. We can each of us only call the present time our own.  Our Lord tells us to pray for today, and so He prevents us from tormenting ourselves about tomorrow.
~Gregory of Nyssa

I so desperately want my life to be meaningful. Mothering often happens in the hidden places, and so sometimes I can feel unseen. I know that God knows me intimately and knows the number of hairs on my head. And yet, it’s so easy to lose sight of the truth that He is with me, really with me.

It’s just that His voice is sometimes drowned out by, well, the sounds of my younger two children fighting in the background, yet again, over a toy. I want to ignore it, to stare out my window, or to sit down and lose myself in an engaging book. Why can’t they just be kind, be sweet? Their gradually escalating argument only fueled my desire to throw my own fit. And then my head continues to turn to the sink full of dishes, and just beyond, to the baskets of laundry overflowing.

We can’t escape the daily life— the changing of diapers, the feeding of ourselves and our families, the dishes and the laundry. No matter what our stage of life, the menial and mundane will always be with us.

How will I respond to these tasks set before me? My children turn to observe me. There are moments where I sit down and cry and others where I choose to shift my perspective.

Just as I engage (or try to!) in the liturgy of morning or evening prayer, can I also choose to see the menial and mundane parts of life as moments He wants to engage us?

The menial and mundane tasks of life are opportunities to turn our hearts and mind toward the Lord. 

Folding piece after piece of my children’s laundry, an ancient breath prayer comes to mind.

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me a sinner.” It is sometimes shortened as, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy” or simply, “Jesus, mercy.” Known as the “Jesus Prayer”, Christians would repeat this prayer or other simple prayers to the rhythm of their breath.

When engaging in the mundane is difficult, these prayers can ground me in the midst of the daily struggle, the chaos.  These simple prayers can invite the Holy Spirit in when my temptation is to let my mind wander to how much I dislike a mundane task or how I’m struggling to find the meaning in serving my family. Joy can be replaced by feelings of apathy or despair. By repeatedly praying breath prayers, these phrases can become rooted in my heart. I’m in the midst of learning to make this a more natural practice.

Here are some other breath prayer ideas:

Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10)

Holy Wisdom, Guide me.

Jesus, let me feel your love.

O Lord, Show me your way.

Abba Father, I Am Yours. 

In the book, The Quotidian Mysteries by Kathleen Norris, she says, “When humans try to do everything at once and for all and be through with it, we court acedia, self-destruction, and death. Such power is reserved for God, who alone can turn what is “already done” into something that is ongoing and ever present. It is a quotidian mystery.”

What if there is a kind of spirituality vitality that would help us see menial tasks as holy work? I’m daily asking the Lord to help me to see His work through His eyes.

Join me, as I seek to dwell with God in the the midst of the mundane.

3 thoughts on “The Ordinary Liturgy of Life

  1. Thanks so much, Holly. I’ve got two loads of Laundry Liturgy ahead of me this evening. And for the first time in ages, thanks to this post, I’m actually looking forward to it 🙂
    The Jesus Prayer sounds like a better use of my brain than the recent trying-to-figure-out-why-the-sudden-sharp-increase-of-clothes-this-month mystery.


  2. Wow! Praise God for the timing of this post! I too have used breath prayers for many years, and they have helped me through so much. I used to read “pray continually”, and wonder how that was possible. After years of practicing breath prayers, I am now closer to achieving that command. Just today I decided to create a twitter account to share the prayers that are helping to shape me. Some of my favorite that I have used over the years are:
    In: More of you, Out: Less of me
    In: Rejoice & be gentle, Out: Let go of anxiety
    In: Give up control, Out: Receive peace and joy
    And currently I’m saying – In: I can be content, Out: Through Christ who sets me free


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s