Praying with the Church 10 – How the Divine Hours Prays with the Church

These are reflections on Scot McKnight‘s book, Praying with the Church, that I wrote and shared with a small circles of friends in 2006. I’ve decided to publish them here only lightly edited. Since they are four years old, they don’t necessarily reflect exactly what I would say today, but they do accurately capture my reaction at the time.

Scot next explores a modern prayer book called the Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle. Here is the online site: http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/

Scot opens with the most common complaint about prayer books, “that one has to have five or six ribbons, a couple of bookmarks, and an accurate memory to become comfortable with A Manual for Eastern Orthodox Prayers and The Liturgy of the Hours and The Book of Common Prayer.” Another complaint is that many “genuinely want to pray with the Church and don’t want to have to pray with only one branch of the Church.” The Divine Hours addresses both of those complaints. It puts everything on one page (or at least in sequence) and includes prayers and writings from all the traditions.

Each “divine hour” takes about 5-10 minutes and includes the following:

The Call to Prayer
The Request for Presence
The Greeting
The Refrain
A Reading
The Refrain
The Morning/Midday/Vespers Psalm
The Refrain
The Cry of the Church
The Lord’s Prayer
The Prayer Appointed for the Week
The Concluding Prayers of the Church

Compline includes some readings from spiritual classics.

The purpose of set prayers is not to receive some ecstatic blessing. The purpose is to provide a sacred rhythm that centers our lives, orders our day, enlarges our hearts, reminds us of old truths, and provides us with words to express both what we feel and think as well as what is appropriate at this time of the year in the Church calendar.

The Divine Hours are comprehensive, not complete. And they are selective. They are designed to be affordable and accessible to those unused to a prayer book tradition. And according to Scot, they excel at that goal.

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