Words of Hope – Daily Devotional – Heaven in Ordinary

Read: Luke 1:39-45

Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? (v. 43)

“In ordinary” is in any case an unusual turn of phrase; but “heaven in ordinary” is even more puzzling. What does it mean, and what does it have to do with prayer?

Of course praying people repeatedly find “heavenly” truths becoming real in “ordinary” life. That is a wonderful experience, and a great privilege. But the words “in ordinary” represent something more than that. In fact a dictionary may give us half a dozen different meanings for “ordinary.” I think it is very possible that the meaning in Herbert’s mind, writing as he was in 17th-century England, was one in regular use in those times; a more specific, and more commonplace, reference. An “ordinary” in Herbert’s day was a tavern or other place that served meals. Here you are, having a routine lunch with a friend or two in your local diner, and the Queen of England stops by, and asks, “May I join you?” Heaven in ordinary.

The experience shared by the two remarkable women in our reading—relatives, one old, one young—was a miraculous pregnancy. They were both overwhelmed with the privilege of that most intimate awareness of God himself at work in their lives. Heaven had broken in! Their particular experience was of course unique; but something like that is the privilege of every praying believer.

Here is the poem in its entirety:

Prayer (I)


Prayer the Church’s banquet, Angels’ age,

God’s breath in man returning to his birth,

The soul in paraphrase, heart in pilgrimage,

The Christian plummet sounding heav’n and earth;

Engine against th’ Almighty, sinner’s tower,

Reversed thunder, Christ-side-piercing spear,

The six-days-world transposing in an hour,

A kind of tune, which all things hear and fear;

Softness, and peace, and joy, and love, and bliss,

Exalted Manna, gladness of the best,

Heaven in ordinary, man well drest,

The milky way, the bird of Paradise,

Church-bells beyond the stars heard, the soul’s blood.

The land of spices; something understood.


Remind me daily, Lord, of the immense privilege of prayer.

Author: Michael Wilcock



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