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I slip from the warm blankets later than I intended, but it is minus 28 degrees Celsius outside and so cosy beneath the covers.

Downstairs the coffee maker is soon percolating, making rude, snorting, gurgling noises; but since they herald that first delicious steaming hot cup of morning coffee I don't mind at all.

I cradle the precious cup of dark golden brown liquid in my hands and pad barefoot into our big back room. Curling up in a wingback chair by the window, beneath the reading lamp, I notice that it is still dark outside. I think of how much I cherish these quiet moments at the start of the day.

I read a couple of pages from Mark Buchanan's book, The Rest of God ; the section called, Sabbath Liturgy; Paying Attention. I determine to be more intentional in paying attention--noticing better.

I start, first, as I begin to pray, by noticing that he is here and acknowledging that. I think of how rude it would be not to greet a guest or beloved friend in our home, and so I speak words of welcome to my Lord.

Instantly I feel a new intimacy. He is not like a friend at the end of a phone line, but he is here, now; he is as close as the ticking of the clock and the blanket over my knees. I express love, gratitude; I confess sin and ask forgiveness, I quiet my thoughts, I pray for others and I listen.

We learn, we grow

On Sunday at church, Cheryl, who is the school bus driver for some of our grandchildren, told me another "Stephen Story." She had been off sick for a few days with a bad cold, and she told me that a prayer request note was found in one of the pews at church, written out by Stephen. It said, "Pray for Miss Cheryl to get better."

When she did return to work, Stephen's big sister Katherine was off with the same cough and cold. After several days, Stephen was riding up front in his favourite seat next to the driver. The big yellow school bus bumped along and Cheryl said to him with concern in her voice, "Katherine's been off school a long time; we should pray for her to get better."

"When?" Stephen wanted to know.

"Well, I can pray while I'm driving," Cheryl said; and to demonstrate, she began to pray out loud with her eyes open, "Dear Lord, please touch Katherine so that she gets better and can come back to school."

Stephen fell silent for a few minutes, and then suddenly said with excitement in his voice, "Miss Cheryl, I'm praying in my head. Right now!"

We learn, we grow

Matthew 6:9-13 (New International Version)
9"This, then, is how you should pray:
" 'Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
11Give us today our daily bread.
12Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
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