Sunday, July 20, 2008


I can't believe I've been a Christian for so many years now and am just now learning about the spiritual discipline of praying the divine offices. The churches in which I grew up would have probably shuddered at its mention. I was raised a good Baptist, prayed the sinner's prayer at 6, got baptized, learned my Bible, and imbibed the don'ts of Christianity. We were never encouraged toward the practice of spiritual disciplines such as fasting, solitude, celebration. It was in college, then, that I was introduced to authors like Richard Foster, Henri Nouwen, Dallas Willard, and the practice of historic Christians. Some people get really nervous when you mention names like that. Like the publisher for which I write. You cannot credit any ideas from men such as these. They've become far too controversial in some Christian circles. And if you want my two cents on that (I guess that's why you're reading my blog, huh?), I think it's just an easy way of keeping at bay ideas like God is real, God is personal, and you can really hear His voice.

But alas, I digress. Back to the practice of the divine offices, also known as fixed hour prayer. Historically, Christians have set aside times in their days to acknowledge God and to recenter their days on Him. I'm reading a book which talks more about this practice (Emotionally Healthy Spirituality), and I was also introduced to the idea by Phyllis Tickle, a guest preacher at Mars Hill Bible Church in Grand Rapids (whose podcast we frequently listen to). 

Tickle has herself edited a contemporary prayer book which leads one into the practice of fixed hour prayer (The Divine Hours). In essence, the book is a compilation of written prayers and readings from Scripture. Ryan and I have taken to reading the morning, evening and retiring prayers together (we're on our own for lunch!). I'm loving this for several reasons. First, I'm giving God more than my first hour. I'm called back into His presence throughout the day by this practice. I find I'm less likely to forget who I am to be and Whom I'm called to serve. Second, my prayer life was getting unfortunately stale. I found myself saying either the same thing or saying nothing. I needed some prodding to venture out in different directions of prayer. This book is guiding me in that way. And third, I love that Ryan and I can do it together. For as "spiritual" as we may appear to some, it's never been easy for us to regularly pray together. We aren't uncomfortable doing so by any means, and it's most definitely our first place to turn when we seek wisdom and guidance for our lives, our family. But, we never have been consistent about prayer together each day. This, we hope, may anchor us in that practice.

Here's a prayer from this last week which has been meaningful to me: "Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day; Preserve me with your mighty power, that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ my Lord, Amen."

1 comment:

The Miller's said...

I really miss meeting with you every week. Thanks for, once again, teaching me about prayer. This has been such a struggle for us since the events of last year. We are trying...
Love, Holly