In trying to liven up my own woefully inadequate prayer life, it was recommended to me that I try the prayer of the hours. My first reaction was that I didn't have HOURS to pray, if I was lucky I had 15 minutes here or there. And after getting over that misconception, I was told to get a copy of The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime
(it was August, just like this -- hot, occasionally miserable, and very dry). I begain reading the introduction, and enjoyed the lively discussion of prayer as something that could be fit into a daily schedule, not taking too long at any one time, not straight-jacketed into a schedule so that I prayed while looking at my watch, but with sufficient variety and structure to let me take a moment and catch my breath.
Let me illustrate with today's morning prayer:
It begins with a verse from Psalm 31, a sentence prayer from Psalm 30, a greeting from Psalm 42, gives out the refrain from Psalm 27, has a reading from Mark 8 and Psalm 103, the Kyrie, the Lord's prayer, the week's prayer, and the prayer of the church. Elapsed time: well, my watch said ten minutes, and I read it aloud. It felt longer, and quiet, and kind of refreshing. More to the point, I was better able to deal with the many responsibilities I had to get through before lunch -- when I could take another few moments. My only complaint about the book is that it's not as portable as I would like -- but it turns out to have a permanent place in my briefcase.
There are books for Autumn and Wintertime
and for Springtime
as well, all keyed to the calendar for those (like me) that lose track of what week it is for the church.
I'm sure you all have recommendations for prayer as well. What is your favorite? How does it fit into your life?