Last Monday was just another morning.

The dogs woke me up to let them outside and had me feed them breakfast. The coffee pot was filled and turned on to start my morning dose of caffeine. I walked over to where my laptop sat and turned it on. It only took a moment for it to run through its startup menu.

Then something odd happened. Where I normally find the website for my Franciscan Morning Prayer and the Daily Office, there was a blank page with the words “Web Page Cannot Be Found.”

My brain stalled for a moment. What was wrong? How bad was it? What was I going to do without the connection?

While taking a moment to sit back and check my connections, my brain continued to search its own memory bank for where my printed copies of prayers were. I’d have to pull out my Book of Common Prayer and thumb through the long-forgotten pages for what readings were on the calendar for the day. Then I’d have to pull out the Bible and locate each reading. The only part ready and convenient was the list of prayer requests and intercessions that is always close by.

The problem proved to be nothing major. During an update of some programs the night before, some changes erroneously took my laptop offline as I was shutting it down. The troubleshooting program identified the problem. My Morning Prayer routine could now resume online.

Several thoughts ran through my head as the webpages came up. The first one was, “Did St. Paul have this in mind when he made the conviction that we must ‘pray without ceasing’?” We must, after all, find some means of praying without the assistance of cyberspace.

Also, what if any of the apostles, saints, mystics or other contemplatives throughout the ages would come back for a visit today? Perhaps they are unknowingly peering over our shoulders when we pray using apps.

We can’t imagine how they would react to our sense of disconnect if we can’t find our way to pray without some sort of electronic device. I can hear Saints Peter and Paul chuckling to themselves, “You think we had scrolls to pray from while we were chained up in prison all those times?” Yes, Bob Dylan was oh so right when he sang “The times, they are a changin’.”

If there is one thing that does stay constant in this ever-changing world in which we live in (oh no ... do I have to give credit now to Mr. McCartney for that line?), it is that prayer does stay constant. No matter what the venue, what the source, what the style, we can rest assured that our prayers are being heard.

I won’t say they’ll be answered how we want them to be. That’s an article for the theologians to write. Allow me to give a prayer of thanksgiving that one way or another, I have the means to pray without ceasing whether I’m online or off.

The Rev. Peter Mark Gdula is a deacon in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania.


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