Prayer for the Day – Script 3

Good morning.

I once won a scholarship to go exploring – finding out about what faith was like in a far off land.

I chose to go to Egypt to spend time with the Desert Fathers – monks who live in monasteries far off the beaten track in the Egyptian desert.

There I found vibrant communities and the strange combination of lives being lived according to ancient patterns of prayer but with some unexpected modern incursions too. Monks who by this time of the morning would have already completed several hours of chanted prayer would greet me later with the wave of a mobile phone or an invitation to sip a cool coca-cola in the heat of the day.

I remember things that seemed exotic to me amidst the dust and the dryness of desert life. The smell of incense as dawn was breaking. A line of monks chanting in the evening as the huge disk of the sun set more suddenly than I was expecting. The sight of the desert stretching away for thousands of miles, towards Libya and on and on for what seemed like forever.

St Anthony’s Feast day falls this week. He was the father of that kind of monasticism. Someone who lived his life in response to a single verse from the Bible he once heard read in church – If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven: and come, follow Me. (Matthew 19:21)

Anthony regarded boredom and laziness as great temptations – things to work to overcome and things to pray about too.

Knowing God,
whether this day is mundane
or whether it has a touch of the exotic about it,
help us to find ways to use every moment of our time well. Amen

You can hear it on the iPlayer for seven days.

Prayer for the Day – Script 1

This is what I said this morning on Prayer for the Day on Radio 4:

Good morning.

There is an anniversary which falls today which isn’t well known or well celebrated but perhaps future generations will look back on it and mark it well. Today is the ninth anniversary of the first surviving edit made to Wikipedia, the online encyclopaedia that anyone can change at will. It had gone online the day before.

A great collaborative journey has unfolded since then. Shared expertise. Thousands upon thousands of opinions. Millions of people thinking their own version of a text was better than the last.

Its been controversial too – challenging what we know about truth and what we think about authority.

Once upon a time, the great texts that influenced people’s lives seemed to contain wisdom so deep that people thought they could only be divinely inspired. Only people deemed holy enough could copy them, and editing – amending the text – was a terrible thing, deserving punishment not praise.

Now we have the potential to find out for real whether we can build a better world out of shared experiences and by sharing what we know with others without always expecting payment or reward.

Today as I am speaking, knowledge and opinions are pulsating around the world faster that could ever once have been imagined. People can collaborate on projects without being in the same place at the same time. Many of the challenges brought about by geography and territory are overcome.

Holy God,
teach us to use these new tools to collaborate for the common good,
show us that knowledge and wisdom increase when they are shared freely
and teach us that prayer is a world-wide web of connectedness
that links us all together with you. Amen.

You should be able to hear it on the iPlayer for seven days.