Do you, as Kris and I do, use prayer books like Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime? Which are your favorites if you do use prayer books?
I wrote about the use of prayer books (Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today), and I enjoyed all the discussion of prayer books when I was discussing the book … and I miss that discussion.
Prayer is not only hard for most Christians, it is discouraging to be reminded of the importance of prayer. Sometimes it is a scolding preacher and other times nothing more than the word of someone who seems so good at prayer. A few years ago I became convinced that one of the major reasons prayer is hard is because we rely too much upon ourselves.
Instead of relying upon our own ideas, our own words, and our own energies there is another method. This method is from the Bible and it has been practiced throughout the history of the Church. I call it “sacred prayers and sacred rhythms.” In Praying with the Church I show how God gave to us a prayer book — the Psalms — and God gave us that book so we would learn how to pray by praying the prayers of the Psalms. Then we learn that Jesus prayed this way too — at set times he used set prayers and he expected his followers to do the same. Jesus then added to the prayers of the Bible: he gave to you and me the Lord’s Prayer to teach us how to pray.
Here are the words of Jesus for one of these great Bible prayers, the Lord’s Prayer:
One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When
he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray,
just as John taught his disciples.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
Simple words to repeat. Daily.
The early Christians were known to have said the Lord’s Prayer at set hours — three times a day. And the Church has always prayed daily at set times.
If you are discouraged about your praying I suggest you learn about and then practice the gentle habits of sacred prayers and sacred rhythms — saying the great prayers of the Bible and the Church at set times. Discouragement may pass away without your not even knowing it.