So, it’s been quite a while since I posted. We’re still happily involved in our local Anglican parish. Nothing new to report there.
But I did want to post a book recommendation. I’ve always had a bit of difficulty praying in front of or with other people. I’m not otherwise shy, but for some reason prayer for me has always been a private thing and group prayer meetings were a struggle. Truth be known, regular prayer and devotional time with my wife wasn’t any easier. I find myself stammering or repeating myself too much, using a lot of “Christianese” and such because I’m too self conscious. I could muddle through in a pinch, but was never comfortable in my own skin doing it. This could be one reason that I enjoy the liturgy at church so much. The prayers in the Book of Common Prayer are beautifully written and “losing myself” in the liturgy and then inserting my own personal petitions during the times of silent prayer give me much needed structure and focus for the overall prayer time. But the BCP isn’t the easiest thing to incorporate into personal or family prayer times to me.
But I got Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals as a gift this past Christmas and my wife and I started using it in the mornings before the kids wake up. It’s really been wonderful. It works much like a morning or evening prayer you might find in a local Anglican or Catholic parish with call and response prayers, responsive readings from the Psalms, a “lectionary” of Old Testament and New Testament passages to read and short devotional passages that usually foces on a notable Christian or event in church history. The format is definitely best for groups or a couple, but I have used it alone a couple of evenings as well.
One caveat that some might be bothered by, though I wasn’t: a few of the devotional passages will touch on a political issue that corresponds to that day in history. Most probably wouldn’t register as an issue for people, but a couple like a positive reference to the Kyoto Protocol or a reflection on Gandhi might raise an eyebrow for more conservative readers. I didn’t have a problem with either in context but just letting you know they are there. The vast, vast majority are about various notable Christians.
Also, so far I’ve only run into one day where I felt like the prayers were a bit too hip for their own good. Most are classic and beautifully written, but there was one talking about peace where instead of the classic line “beating their swords into plows”, we got “turning their guns into tractors” or some such. A minor ding on the book in the grand scheme of things.
At any rate, there’s my recommendation. My wife and I finally have a morning prayer time together and it has deeply enriched our lives. I’m not sure if it would have occurred without the help of a book like this to give us a framework of sorts to work within. I highly recommend the book for people used to liturgy or those who might like to dip their toe in the water of liturgical prayer.