more divine hours - the practice

I hate to tell people what I do as if I've got a lock on this prayer thing (I don't). But, since what I use for prayer is nothing I've invented and since the Ultrarev asks, our Conference Superintendent (Richard Lucco) suggested Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours. It comes in three volumes for the year, four months for each volume. The Right Rev. Lucco says that one of the reasons he likes using this book is because he is no longer in control of his prayer life. Someone else is and he must submit to something beyond himself.

Tickle has taken her cue from ancient prayer practices and written complete prayer "services" for four periods during the day: morning (between 9 and 6 am), middday (between 11am and 2pm), vespers (between 5 and 8pm) and compline (just before retiring for the night.

Each period of prayer includes readings from Scripture, lots of psalms turned into prayer, ancient prayers and the like. For a great sampling I recommend you go to the explorefaith.org site. At the bottom of that page you can enter your time zone and it will display the prayers for that time period for that day. Of course, you could just use the web site for your prayers (it's free!) but I find holding onto a book and sitting away from my computer to be more conducive.

Pray the prayers slowly and with intention. Chant some of the psalms (as Augustine says, those "who chant the psalms pray twice". Which reminds me, do read Tickle's introduction; it's very enlightening as to the history and benefits of fixed hour prayer (with a brief lesson on chanting).

Each period of prayer takes as long as you want it to take. In the mornings in particular (when I make the time) I try to add 10-15 minutes of centering prayer before getting started (that's not easy to make time for, of course -- still learning). Prayer can take as little as 5 minutes. Sometimes I'm rushed, but I do it anyway. I find that the discipline of coming to prayer like this is like stitching into my day four connection points of prayer. I meet with God in an intentional way. I'm hooked.

You can use the Book of Common Prayer for this, but it is cumbersome to flip pages, etc. Tickle has organized her days neatly so that anyone can do this. Kim and I pray together whenever we can, especially at compline, but we change the prayers back to plural pronouns when we do.

Hope that helps. I highly recommend it. Peace.


At 1:39 PM, Blogger Dinger said...

I had disciplines such as these for a good 12 years or so and life has never been as good as when I did. The hard part about trying to regain the discipline is that your goal ends up being the discipline itself, instead of the communion. May God bless you with joy as well as conviction as you commune with Him.


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