Monday, April 16, 2007

And before your respond, keep in mind that Matthew 6:7 can apply to impromptu prayers just as much as written ones.

Article in The Chicago Tribune about the growing number of evangelical Christians who are praying "the liturgy of the hours" -- a series of written prayers (also known as "the Divine Office") based on the Psalms that are prayed at fixed times (usually morning, noon, evening, and just before bedtime.)

The reasons?
  • concern that the "free-form" prayers so common in conservative Protestantism can easily become trite and shallow.
  • the "emergent church" movement's emphasis on liturgy and mystery.
  • the publication of Phylis Tickle's easy guide to the Divine Office.
Myself, I'm in two minds about this. For the past few years, I've been using the Psalms as a basis for personal and congregational prayer -- one psalm per week, chosen from the Upper Room's Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants; I've found it helpful (as have the members of my church). I've also used Tickle's book as a guide for my personal devotions.

Then again, if you're as obsessive-compulsive as I am, the Divine Office too quickly becomes just another item that needs to be checked off the list; for that reason, there have been times I've had to set it aside.

Any thoughts out there?

(And if you want to read the article in the Tribune, click on the title of this post.)

1 comment:

Jared Wright said...

It sounds helpful...

A pastor friend of mine introduced me to what he calls praying the Scriptures. It's essentially reading a passage of Scripture prayerfully and with an engaged imagination, taking note of the parts of the passage that seem to connect in significant ways or to resonate especially.

Then, it involves praying or journaling a response along the following lines:

"God, when I think about this scripture and my own life, I feel challenged by..." or "...I am thankful for..."

So the process is sort of an interactive conversation based on Scripture.

What I could have said much more briefly is that I find value in quasi-liturgical prayer patterns.