In his Rule for communities that want to follow Jesus with their whole lives, St. Benedict devotes a great deal of time to instructions on how to pray. Praying together is important for any community, Benedict says. It establishes a common rhythm for our lives, instilling good instincts for when we should pause from the work of our hands to join the “work of God.” But Benedict knew that praying together with others presented practical challenges long before planes, trains, and automobiles. Sometimes, we just can’t get back to our community for common prayer.
In Chapter 50 of his Rule, Benedict offers this little gem:
If someone’s work takes them so far away that they cannot return to the chapel for common prayer, they should pray the office where they are, and kneel out of reverence for God…. The same goes for members who are traveling away from the community: they should keep the offices as best they can, not neglecting their measure of service.
Benedict’s wise counsel is the epigraph to our new Common Prayer Pocket Edition. I’m delighted that tens of thousands of Christians around the world are learning that we can pray and act together as we simultaneously tap into both what the Spirit is doing today and the ancient wisdom of fixed-hour prayer. Over the past year, we’ve heard fabulous stories about little communities of prayer and action that are springing up on prison blocks and cul-de-sacs, in dorm room lobbies and office complexes. A few months ago, I prayed Common Prayer with a group that meets on a street corner in Dallas, TX. This movement is helping all of us see how church is community whether or not it happens under a steeple.
As Benedict noted long ago, this practice that unites us in the Spirit needs to go with us when we’re on the go. Which is why I’m equally excited to be hearing from folks who are taking the new Pocket Edition with them on their commute to work and on their lunch break, to school and to the coffee shop.
As a way of celebrating Common Prayer ‘On the Go,’ School for Conversion wants to give away a bunch of free copies of the Pocket Edition this week. I hope you’ll help us spread the word. We thought it’d be fun to invite folks who’re taking Common Prayer with them to post a picture like these to the Common Prayer Facebook Page (which is, by the way, a great place to connect with others who are praying together around the world).
For anyone who posts a picture by this Sunday, March 11, we’ll send a free copy of the Pocket Edition to a friend of your choice.
Hope you’ll help us spread the love of this Common Prayer Movement. And I hope you’ll keep praying with us. May we join our hearts and muscles to become the church we pray for.