Common Prayer… our need for liturgy

Well, I’ve found something new, and I’m pretty excited to get exploring it.

I was looking for what to get Yvonne for Christmas, and in her wish list I found a book called Common Prayer, put out by the Simple Way community in Philly.

The book sort of mirrors the book of the same name that Anglicans, Catholics, and many more use day in and day out. One of the chief reasons for this is unity. Their book follows a three year cycle.

Personally, I think it’s a pretty neat thought to think that while you’re doing something, millions around the world are doing it as well.

Well, the folk at the Simple Way have a huge heart for bringing Christians together. They, along with some of their friends put together their own version of Common Prayer. It follows a 1 year cycle and brings much of the best of many traditions together in this single tome.

But I won’t carry on about that too much. I know some people aren’t fans of liturgies and such. But there’s something that has struck me over the last couple of days, reading this book and doing the prayers and passages with my wife and children. Let me quote the book though…

“Liturgy is not about getting indoctrinated. Doctrines are hard things to love.

It’s not even really about education. Liturgy at it’s core is not about learning facts and memorizing phrases. Liturgy is soul food. It nourishes our souls just as breakfast strengthens our bodies. IT’s sort of like family dinner. Hopefully you get some nutritious food, but more than nutrition, family dinner is about family, love, community.”

(from the introduction)

And I’m seeing that this is true.

My point here is not that everyone should rush out and buy this book. (in fact, you can view all of the daily readings at www.commonprayer.net) My point is that we need spiritual food, and a whole lot of it. And I don’t know about you, but sometimes I have a very rough time finding themes and things to give my children with devotional times.

If we’re going to overcome this world, it won’t be by having a 5-minute quiet time with God every day. Just like with food, we can become seriously mal-nourished on the living Word of God. We need it all the time. After all, it’s what we live off of right?

So, as I’ve said, we’ve been trying this book out for a few days now. We’ve done the morning and night readings. The mornings have passages you look up from the old and new testament, as well as quotes from heroes of the faith from many traditions, all illustrating a central theme and prayer.

What I’m finding inspiring is the room that is allotted for our own personal prayers for others. I’m finding that these readings really inspire me to pray for others, for the kingdom, for those around me.

And just in these two days, my girls are starting to pray openly. Last night, at bed, doing the evening prayers, my Allie perked up and wanted to pray first. All three had stuff on their minds, and I was pretty surprised at what it was. It was beautiful.

These aren’t magic formula prayers. As the quote above says, it’s food. It’s a snack to get your mind going, and keep you going all day long.

Whether you pick this up or not, I think you can agree with the sentiment. We desperately need things to keep our minds and eyes set on what matters in this world that loves to drag us away. We need good food; scriptures, spiritual family… the Community and Kingdom of the Living God… the avenues that His living Word travels through.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got. I’m excited for my kids to learn prayers from much older traditions. I’m eager for them to think about God more. I won’t always use this book, but I’m grateful to the folk who put it together. Their efforts (and this had to be a massive one) are very appreciated.

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