Sunday, January 24, 2010

4. a book of prayer that influenced me greatly

This is part four in a series that highlights books that have influenced me greatly in the past decade. Today, I feature Celtic Daily Prayer by The Northumbria Community.

Ever since I took a church history course in college, I've been fascinated by the historical roots of our Christian faith. I find that what has gone before captures my spiritual imagination and sets me to thinking what's needed today from the reservoir of the past.

That's what first piqued my interest in this book of daily prayer. I think my good friend Kelly Crull found it when he was doing some research on worship resources for our church. Kelly, if you're the one that put me on to this book, thank you! (And forgive me for my fuzzyplushtoy memory, please!)

At any rate, I have been using this book as a guide in my daily prayer for the past six or seven years. It is a rather thick book. I still have yet to exhaust its treasures. But, in spite of its thickness, the core of this book can be found in just a few thin pages towards the beginning, in which is contained the liturgies for The Daily Office. Daily Office is a practice that's rooted in monasticism. It is a rhythm of prayer that seeks to help one orient one's entire day around the practice of prayer. So, there are prayer times set aside for morning, midday, evening and bedtime. Within the morning and evening prayer time, small nuggets of Scripture are provided (from the Psalms, Old Testament, and New Testament) on which the disciple can meditate slowly. Further, the midday office contains the Lord's Prayer, among other Scripture-prayers. Praying the Lord's Prayer every day is a wonderfully liberating thing. My appreciation for it has grown because of the experience.

Finally, this book has not only influenced me, but my whole family, since most days our family (kids included!) say the morning and evening prayers together. In the morning, we even stand together in a circle, hold hands and pronounce the final blessing on each other. Celtic Daily Prayer is best used in community, whether the "community" is just "two or three gathered in Jesus' name" or with a dozen or a thousand. When used this way, it has the effect of binding us together around Jesus, the center of our lives.

Having said that, I began using Celtic Daily Prayer individually. Once I saw how great it was, I encouraged its use in our week-in, week-out family life.

And, by the way, don't let "guests" or "visitors" in your home stop you from praying together. When it comes time for prayer, if we have guests in our home, we just hand them the prayer sheet and ask them to join in. When that happens, we've just made our family that much bigger.

And that triggers my final thought: Celtic Daily Prayer is not all "serious" as I'm perhaps making it sound. Sometimes we even laugh our way through prayers. And that's okay, too.

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