Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Common Prayer is Rather Uncommon, Really

By Kit Carlson

Sunday mornings are wonderful. The family of God gathered around the table, sharing in Christ’s Body and Blood, becoming Christ’s Body and Blood given for the world, then leaving for another six days out in the world, the place where most of us have our ministries and do our work.

So is one day really enough to charge us up for six days of work and worry?

One of the gifts lurking inside the Book of Common Prayer is the Daily Office.  Like the daily office to which we must trudge from Monday through Friday, these worship services are meant to be regular, routine, a daily practice like toothbrushing, a daily sustenance like eating.

Most of us don’t even know these services are in there, able to shape an entire day from sunrise to bedtime – Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline. And if we have tried to pray with them at home alone, we have found them awkward, because they rely on a call and response style of praying. The leader says something and the others respond. Hard to do at home by yourself.

The trick is, this is common prayer. It is meant to be done in community, with others, saying these prayers together, holding them in common.

At our parish in East Lansing, we are trying an experiment this Lent. We are offering some kind of daily office service every day of the week, and we have asked folks to pick one and commit to it. Evensong on Mondays, Noonday prayer on Tuesdays, Holy Eucharist with healing prayers on Wednesdays, Morning Prayer on Thursdays, Facebook Morning Prayer and an Interfaith Noonday Prayer on Fridays, and Stations of the Cross on Saturdays.  Folks are gathering to pray together, in groups as small as three people, or as large as 40.  Just to pray. Together. In common.

You don’t need a church to do this.  You just need some folks. Your family. Your roommates. A few friends.  With a Book of Common Prayer and a small group, your prayer can become common … and routine …like brushing your teeth, or eating.

Where two or three are gathered, Jesus said he would be in the midst of them.

Kit Carlson is the rector of All Saints Episcopal Church in East Lansing, Michigan. 

No comments:

Post a Comment