Thursday, September 20, 2012

Liturgical prayer and the formation of the Christian

I often take the liturgy of the church for granted.  In the busy moments of everyday life, the daily office of prayer can become just one more hurdle to the end of a crazed day. 

Recently I've had to focus more than normal on just getting through the prayers.  And yet I know there is power in those prayers.  I know there is joy and peace to be found in the words spoken by millions of faithful people, day in and day out over the church's long history. 

One of the ways I am trying to revive my passion for prayer is through the deliberate reading of the Psalms.  Lately I have been using the daily cycle out of the Book of Common Prayer that allows the person to pray through the Psalms in a 30 day span of time.  Notice how I used the words "pray through," and not "read through."  There is a difference and there in might lie some of the trouble I've been encountering.

I gotten in the habit of viewing the daily office prayers as just another task in a busy day, and I've forgotten it is a moment when I encounter the living God who created heaven and earth.  I often find when I rush through the words I forget to listen to God as He tries to speak to me through those very same words, and most especially through the words of the Psalms.  They are the bible in miniature.

The Psalms appointed for the morning of the 20th day of the month are Psalms 102 and 103... 

Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
Bless the LORD, O my soul, * and forget not all his benefits.

He forgives all your sins * and heals all your infirmities;
He redeems your life from the grave * and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
He satisfies you with good things, * and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
The LORD executes righteousness * and judgment for all who are oppressed.
He made his ways known to Moses * and his works to the children of Israel.
The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, * slow to anger and of great kindness.

It's something I have to work on a little.  But it doesn't worry me too much.  Like most people, there are ebbs and flows to my prayer life, and I am thankful in all of those moments I have the liturgy of the Church to keep me focused...even if I take it for granted...and even when I forget to listen to God speaking through those prayers.  But most especially, I am grateful in those moment when I do forget, for it is then that the prayers help me remember.