Each year I use a different prayerbook for my private prayer time. The diversity keeps me interested, you know?
I found one called “Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals” at the bookstore back in November. I love several things about this prayerbook.
1) It feels very ecumenical. The fact that it’s a prayerbook, that there are Psalm and Scripture readings, the Lord’s Prayer every day, feels like the prayer I’ve experienced with the Benedictines at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Indiana. Some of the songs we sing–folk songs and such–remind me of my Baptist days (even “Nothing but the Blood!”). Others are definitely Gospel (“I Want Jesus to Walk with Me”). There are also Taize, Hispanic hymns, chant…
Here’s what the compliers say about the different traditions represented in the book: “Folks are bound to ask if this prayer book is for Catholics or for Protestants. Our answer is, ‘Yes, it is.’ We want the fire of the Pentecostals, the imagination of the Mennonites, the Lutheran’s love of Scripture, the Benedictines’ discipline, the wonder of the Orthodox and Catholics. We’ve mined the fields of church history for treasures and celebrated them wherever we’ve found them. We’ve drawn on some of the oldest and richest traditions of Christian prayer. And we’ve tried to make them dance.” (10)
2) The quotes…nearly every morning, prayer contains some quote from a saint of some sort. Not all of these saints are Catholic. Some of them aren’t even Christian. But all of them get me thinking about how to live faith, not just in my head or in my recliner at home or the pulpit at church. They get me thinking about how to live my life out in the real world. The authors say this about the quotes: “Not all of these quotes are from Christians, nor was it our intention to endorse everyone we quoted, but we do believe that anything true belongs to God, no matter whose mouth it comes from.” (24) Cool, huh?
3) Artwork–at the beginning of each month is a beautiful woodcut. Gotta love those.
4) At the end of each month there’s a section called “Becoming the Answer to Our Prayers: A Few Ideas.” Here’s one from the end of January: “Try to go a whole week without spending any money. If you have to, barter or beg a little to make it through.” Or “Join a Bible study led by someone with less formal education than yourself.” Or “Attempt to repair something that is broken. Appreciate the people who repair things for you on a regular basis.” (126)
5) Here’s the best thing about this prayer book…and I just discovered it this morning! There’s a website that includes the prayers for each day! http://www.commonprayer.net Check it out!
As gung ho as I am about it, I do have two disappointments with Common Prayer. The first is that it doesn’t use inclusive language. The other is that the book is meant to be used in community prayer. I’d like to be reading it in community as well.
Anyone want to join me?
Peace for your journey…