Friday, October 9, 2015

Switching Out the Prayer Books

This week I switched out my prayer books.  I use Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours for my fixed hour prayer. It's a 3 volume set, so three times a year, I trade out prayer books, taking book marks from one and adding them to the next one. Each time, I shake my head at how quickly time zooms by.

I've been using these wonderful books since Advent of 2005. In 2004, I went to Mepkin Abbey, and I really wanted something to help me pray through the day. I picked up a book in the bookstore. I was attracted to its small size. But each prayer encounter was almost too short. It didn't really replicate the Mepkin experience.

As I was reading Henri Nouwen's Genesee Diary, I realized that I really wanted a prayer book that was calibrated to the liturgical seasons. I wanted to be reading Advent verses at Advent, for example. And so, I made the leap.

I'm happy to have also discovered these prayers on an Internet site, so that I don't have to carry the books around with me. Would I have bought the books had I known of the Internet source? Probably. It's nice to be able to pray without a computer.

Some of you would say that you don't need a book to pray, which, of course, is true. But for those of us who need the structure, fixed hour prayer can work well. For those of us who can't figure out what to say when we pray, fixed hour prayer can work well. I love the idea of being part of a world-wide prayer web.

And of course, the Tickle volumes are just one of many resources. As I've blogged before, many people are rediscovering the value of this ancient discipline, people of many different denominations.

This time as I switched the prayer books, I took a minute to realize that Phyllis Tickle died a few weeks ago.  There wasn't much coverage of her death, for so many reasons.  But I imagine when future scholars write about the church history being made during the last two decades, her name will be prominent for so many reasons.  One of those reasons will surely be the revival in fixed hour prayer that she spearheaded.

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