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Religion Library: Christianity

Worship and Devotion in Daily Life

Written by: Beth Davies-Stofka

Christian Bible study group Source: modern life, many churches no longer offer daily services, but the tradition of private devotion continues. Many Christians set aside daily family time, usually in the evening, for prayer and scripture reading. Small groups meet in the home for Bible study. Christians often pray upon waking and at bedtime. Prayers of thanksgiving are said at mealtime. Christians pray on behalf of the sick and visit the sick in order to pray with them. Christian expressions of devotion also include helping at soup kitchens or shelters, visiting prisons, assisting with cleaning up and rebuilding after natural disasters, and volunteering in hospitals, nursing homes, and hospice care. aids to prayer and the study of scripture, devotional books are very popular with Christians. Some examples include the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, the Lutheran Book of Prayer, The Imitation of Christ by Thomas à Kempis, The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Screwtape Letters and other titles by C.S. Lewis, and The Purpose-Driven Life by Rick Warren. Public DomainThese books extend and deepen the personal and communal lives of Christians by supplementing their daily prayers with alternative prayers, Bible meditations, and reflections on the meaning of Christian life and identity.

Inspired by the Bible's instruction to "pray always," Christians developed meditations, such as the practice by Russian monks of repeating a prayer hundreds of times daily in order to integrate the prayer into their breathing. Greek monks practiced sitting quietly, guiding their consciousness inward to experience the inner light of God. Monks in Egypt would slowly recite the psalms, reflecting on the most meaningful verses. In Europe during the Middle Ages, the practice of walking meditation developed around the labyrinth-like patterns that were designed into the tile and stone floors of the great cathedrals, a practice now enjoying resurgence. In recent years, the practice of centering prayer has become quite popular. The practitioner sits comfortably and quietly, continually repeating a single word such as "love," "light," or "peace" until thoughts flow away and the practitioner feels a deep sense of stillness and rest.

Through many styles of prayer, Bible readings, study, and devotional action, Christians respond to the New Testament's call to prayer, to sanctify daily life by spending it closely aligned with God.

Study Questions:
1.     How do Christians structure their prayer? What does it reveal about the relationship they have with God?
2.     When do Christians pray? Why does it vary?
3.     Name three contemporary aids to prayer. How are they used?


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