Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Experimenting with Prayer

One of our Lenten activities at the parish where I hang my biretta is a book study of Ian Stuchbery's Anglican classic, This is our Faith. There has been such pick up on this study opportunity that I've had to order several additional copies of the book.



This evening, we were discussing the first chapter on prayer. I shared with the group some of my recent experimentation in daily prayer. Clergy are canonically obliged to pray the daily office (ie, Morning and Evening Prayer), although with the increased flexibility of the Book of Alternative Services, there is significant room to vary individual practice to suit individual needs and rhythms.

For some time, I had been in the practice of adding the assigned evening Psalms and reading(s) to the morning office because I found the evening office was often lost in the shuffle. The problem with this model was that it made the morning office busier and more difficult to approach prayerfully while at the same time giving me perhaps too much permission to omit any disciplined evening prayer time at all.

After some discussion with my spiritual director, I've stopped piling on the readings at Matins, allowing the morning prayer time to be less busy and to require less fiddling about. I use an online resource to shape the morning office, so adding extra readings meant complicating a tool that was intended to simplify. The evening office is stripped to its bare essentials to allow for a more extensive entry into the Gospel text applying a Lectio Divina approach. The result has been more settled prayer time in both morning and evening, although there is still work to be done.

The thing is, we should not - must not - be afraid to experiment with our prayer life, especially in those times where it has become less prayerful, too busy and altogether ineffective. An approach that works for one person may not work for another, and the approach which worked successfully at one point in an individual's spiritual journey may be less well suited at a different point in the journey.

My routine of prayer still needs some work. It likely always will. But a willingness to rethink has proven immeasurable helpful.

4 comments:

tachesterton said...

I think the daily office is a good thing, but I was a little surprised to read your statement that clergy are 'canonically obliged' to pray it. Is there such a canon in the Diocese of Qu'Appelle? There certainly isn't in Edmonton, or in the canons of the Anglican Church of Canada, although I believe there is in the C of E.

Tim C.

Malcolm+ said...

I may be pushing the issue a bit, but the BCP sets out the requirement and insofar as it is established by canon as our official Prayer Book, that direction has the force of canon. The other legislation authorizing the BAS allows us an alternative rite, but does not relieve us of the obligation.

tachesterton said...

Hmm - the BCP rubrics having the force of canons? That would make rice wafers at communion canonically illegal...!!!

Tim C.

Malcolm+ said...

Just like driving at 105 in a 100 zone.