Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Prayer Book as a Resource for Private Prayer

Many people struggle with how to balance the responsibilities of work, family, and piety (amongst other responsibilities). The modern world has enriched our lives with many forms of entertainment and other luxuries but this has all come at a great cost to the average man by limiting his time to spend with his God and his family. These two things are more important than career development and advancement in society. The weekend has even become a thing of the past, where rest is no longer really possible or desired by modern society, instead we must be engaged in various extra-curricular activities (which in themselves are good), however, we neglect Sabbath rest.

In this light, one of the first things to go in a person's schedule is their daily prayer. There are a variety of ways in which one can daily read the Scripture and pray. I am assuming that most of the audience is at least incorporating some aspect of liturgical prayer (although extemporaneous prayer should be included as well). When the day is filled with activities and programs and whatnot it is very tempting and easy to sit down and watch another episode of Orange is the New Black, rather than spend those thirty minutes with the Scriptures and praying the Prayer Book.

Due to this stretch of time, and with other principles of using the Prayer Book individually or as a family,

The issue of daily prayer is something of concern amongst devout Christians (not that I count myself in this category). I think there should be some guiding principles for how to incorporate the most of the Prayer Book in our private devotions, whilst acknowledging that sometimes time is not there to be able to do the complete offices. The additional principle is that when the office is prayed by an individual, I do not see the point in reading the responsive portions of the Prayer Book offices.

The main point in this is to see the Prayer Book as a resource for private prayer, not a strict form. In the parish church, the forms must be strictly observed, but in the home and in the messiness of ordinary life, these prayers can be used as needed and in the proper season.

The following principles will help individuals use the Prayer Book most efficiently:

  1. The portions of the service read by the priest only (such as the exhortation and absolution) and the responsive parts of the service (such as the preces, which require more than one person) should be omitted. 
  2. The primacy of Scripture should be exhibited in the liturgy. If time is not to be had, the liturgy should be reduced and not the lessons. The lessons should take precedence over the Psalms. 
    1. Update: It has been pointed out that the Psalms are an integral part of the Offices, and I agree with this assertion. I think the Psalms should be maintained. 
  3. This is a personal preference, but I view the Canticles and Collect of the Day as optional as well, if one must delete additional parts of the service. 

Here follows a simplified version of Evening Prayer which is my own private use. Obviously, the forms can be used in Morning Prayer with the appropriate texts.

WHEN the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive. Ezekiel 18.27
I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Psalm 51.3
Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities. Psalm 51.9
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit : a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51.17
Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Joel 2.13
To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him: neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in his laws which he set before us. Daniel 9.9-10
O Lord, correct me, but with judgement; not in thine anger, lest thou bring me to nothing. Jeremiah 10.24; Psalm 6.1
Repent ye; for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand. St. Matthew 3.2
I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. St. Luke 15.18-19
Enter not into judgement with thy servant, O Lord; for in thy sight shall no man living be justified. Psalm 143.2
If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us: but if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 St. John 1.8-9

ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father, We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep, We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts, We have offended against thy holy laws, We have left undone those things which we ought to have done, And we have done those things which we ought not to have done, And there is no health in us: But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us miserable offenders; Spare thou them, O God, which confess their faults, Restore thou them that are penitent, According to thy promises declared unto mankind in Christ Jesu our Lord: And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake, That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, For ever and ever. Amen.


Reading(s) (with or without Canticles)

I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth:
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord, Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, Born of the Virgin Mary, Suffered under Pontius Pilate, Was crucified, dead, and buried: He descended into hell; The third day he rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, And sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; The holy Catholick Church; The Communion of Saints; The Forgiveness of sins; The Resurrection of the body, And the Life everlasting. Amen.

OUR Father, which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name, Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, in earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive them that trespass against us; And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. Amen.

(Collect of the Day)

The Second Collect, for Peace.
O GOD, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom: Defend us thy humble servants in all assaults of our enemies; that we, surely trusting in thy defence, may not fear the power of any adversaries; through the might of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Third Collect, for Grace.
O LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who hast safely brought us to the beginning of this day: Defend us in the same with thy mighty power; and grant that this day we fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings may be ordered by thy governance, to do always that is righteous in thy sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Choose one or more of the following

A Prayer for the Queen's Majesty.
O LORD, our heavenly Father, high and mighty, King of kings, Lord of lords, the only Ruler of princes, who dost from thy throne behold all the dwellers upon earth: Most heartily we beseech thee with thy favour to behold our most gracious Sovereign Lady, Queen ELIZABETH; and so replenish her with the grace of thy Holy Spirit, that she may alway incline to thy will, and walk in thy way. Endue her plenteously with heavenly gifts; grant her in health and wealth long to live; strengthen her that she may vanquish and overcome all her enemies; and finally after this life she may attain everlasting joy and felicity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A Prayer for the Royal Family.
ALMIGHTY God, the fountain of all goodness, we humbly beseech thee to bless Philip Duke of Edinburgh, CharlesPrince of Wales, and all the Royal Family: Endue them with thy Holy Spirit; enrich them with thy heavenly grace; prosper them with all happiness; and bring them to thine everlasting kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord.Amen.

A Prayer for the Clergy and People.
ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, who alone workest great marvels: Send down upon our Bishops, and Curates, and all Congregations committed to their charge, the healthful Spirit of thy grace; and that they may truly please thee, pour upon them the continual dew of thy blessing. Grant this, O Lord, for the honour of our Advocate and Mediator, Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Prayer of Saint Chrysostom.
ALMIGHTY God, who hast given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications unto thee; and dost promise that when two or three are gathered together in thy Name thou wilt grant their requests: Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants, as may be most expedient for them; granting us in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting. Amen.

2 Corinthians 13.
THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.


Scott said...

Great article! I do have to say I view the Psalms as the irreducible core of the Office, so I'd want to treat them as at least equal to the Lessons. And if it's impossible to do more than pray the psalms appointed, that's the bit that should stay. But of course the full Office is best.

The Hackney Hub said...

Thank you!

Obviously the full office is the goal (although I still find it awkward to read the parts that presume a congregation, i.e. it's awkward to "exhort" yourself to repentance). You might be right on the Psalms, though. They are crucial to the office.

Anonymous said...

Agreed in preserving the Psalms as essential to the office. Three suggestions to consider as you pare the office for private use: delete the first instance of the Lord's Prayer, keep the Kyrie, and drop the Queen's Majesty and Royal Family optional prayers.

Matthew Celestis said...

I love to use the prayer book in my private prayer.

I do use some of the responsive parts, namely the litany. It's a bit odd saying it on one's own, but the litany is such a beautiful prayer.

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