Change can be a good thing. I’ve recently changed my daily prayer time by using a new resource that I want to commend to you. I’ve been using Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals for about a month now. Prior to that I was using Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours pocket edition.
Here’s what I like, thus far, about Common Prayer.
- It features a single entry to be used in the morning. I’m sharpest and most alert first thing in the morning so this works well for me.
- It draws from more sources than Tickle’s books. The Divine Hours basically lifts much of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The BCP is a masterful piece of English prose and a pretty good theological document. However, I’m not Anglican. I prefer the BCP to be one among many sources that inform my prayer life. Using it exclusively feels a little artificial to me.
- There are extended Scripture texts as part of the liturgy. The chief means of grace are prayer and the Word. I often felt that my use of the BCP or The Divine Hours was short on extended reflection and meditation on a passage of scripture longer than one to two sentences. Granted, I could have inserted my own lessons but I never did. The provision of an Old Testament and New Testament text that builds on the liturgy (or around which the liturgy is built) is very helpful.
- It introduces social righteousness as a critical part of our life of prayer. Woven throughout the liturgy are stories and reflections on injustices in the world and Christian responses to them. I find it helpful to have these things brought to my attention and kept there. Prayer is the appropriate starting point for taking action to promote social righteousness regardless of the issue and as it is the natural product of Gospel transformation both in the individual and in society.
I’ve also started to us a more intentional prayer diary as described by Derek Prime in On Being a Pastor. Prime’s format allows me to pray for some matters daily, weekly, or monthly. I’ve also used his suggestion to break the key elements of Our Lord’s Prayer down into daily petitions for the individuals, the church, and the world.
What aids help you develop in the practice of prayer?