Electronic Prayer Book

Why Pray?

 

This simple two word question is one of the most pressing and complex questions confronting Christians in our time. Our experience has indicated that most Christians who attend church worship feel comfortable joining in the prayer related to what takes place there. But outside that we all find it hard to pray on a regular basis except when we want something really important to us”. Given the sharp decline in the influence of Christian education together with the ever-increasing influence of atheistic society around us, it is hardly surprising that regular, meaningful personal prayer has all but disappeared from the lives of many people.

We hasten to mention right at the outset that we have no intention of sending readers on any guilt trip. It is not a sin to be human! If we have not had the tradition of regular private prayer, morning and evening, passed on to us, then naturally the practice just simply had no chance to take root and so never developed.

There is a very severe and dangerous crisis in the Church. We have reached such an advanced stage of cultural disintegration that much of Christianity as we have known it is, in some parts of the world, on the verge of collapse and extinction. It is true there are enemies of the Church who are actively and skillfully working towards this goal with an alarming degree of success. However, in the life of the Church this factor (always present, historically, to some extent) has never determined whether the Church will survive or not. What really makes the difference is the devotion of the faithful members of the Church. If we are strong and vibrant in our Faith, then the Church prospers – even under oppression. If we are weak in living the Faith, then, literally, all hell breaks loose! And frankly we are seeing signs of this today.

The question, “Why pray?” takes some answering. Yes of course we are going to pray when something really important crops up. And there is no harm in that – provided personal satisfaction is not the only motive. We need to recover a sense of wanting to pray because we have so much to hope for in terms of other people’s needs – so much to love God for that we want to respond to Him, honour Him, and acknowledge our total debt to Him for everything He is, and everything we have. With this attitude, we will be looking for ways to increase our frequency of prayer, and the time we give to God in daily worship.

 

Two Millenia, Plus!

 

When we read the Bible carefully, Genesis to Revelation, we observe that all the models of people loyal to God were also models of prayer.

They prayed regularly: at least morning and evening – and usually during the day (especially at noon) and even during the night. This practice evolved from the traditions of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – and later, King David.

They all recited psalms and prayers of some description; they were not daunted by a modern excessive fixation on the dangers of repetition; nor were they duped by “one-liners” scaring them off “saying prayers”.

They all took time, according as their state in life permitted, to be still in God’s presence and quietly reflect on God’s wonders’ and God’s glory.

These characteristics were shared by our Jewish forebears as well as Christians down through the ages. The traditional Church has a vast culture and rich diversity in the forms and approaches it has been offering in prayer meditation and worship, over the past two millennia, in every part of the world. We attempt here to offer a tiny fragment of the ancient Roman Breviary in so far as international copyright laws permit. This is a harmonious blend of psalms scripture readings, hymns, prayers, chants sermons and exhortations to holiness: all in tune with the various seasons of the Christian year.

 

How Does One Sample Such Treasures

 

We suggest there are three simple decisions one first needs to make;

1. To try and dedicate a specific time for prayer at least once a day, but preferably morning and evening. To begin with it may only be a few minutes in the morning, and perhaps longer in the evening. The important thing is to establish some sort of basic rhythm if possible, and try to keep to it where practicable.

2. To dedicate a particular place in one’s home for worship. We offer some ideas about this in our section entitled: A Private Oratory. Using instruction provided on another web site, we encourage you to read “A Private Oratory“. But we strongly advise the consideration by our readers of the influence an oratory in our homes can have in our lives.

3. To dedicate one’s attention and whole focus on the Presence of God and the privilege of joining the whole Church – the Body of Christ – in rendering all honour and glory to God.

When we have made these decisions the rest will fall easily into place.

 

Using This Prayer Book

 

Our electronic daily prayer book is divided into four sections. In Part 1 you are introduced to fragments from the Roman Breviary. Having decided how much time you can devote to prayer either morning or evening, choose whatever elements are appropriate in the circumstances. There is no need to rush to “squeeze” everything in, just focus prayerful attention on what is practical.

Either morning or evening (perhaps both) you can select something from Part 2 for your meditiation or reflection. If not daily, perhaps weekly.

If time permits, we urge you to say the Angelus in Part 3 either at Morning Prayer, midday, or at Evening Prayer – or ideally at all three. This is the great proclamation from Heaven of God’s plan to send His Son into our world. It also celebrates His Death and Resurrection, and finally, points our attention to His promised Return at the end of time.

Traditional Christians, following ancient Jewish practice, also like to commend their safety and wellbeing to the care of God’s Holy Angels: especially last thing at night – but also as we set out on the tasks of the new day. Remember our Lord’s teaching; every one of us has an angel appointed to be our guardian from the time we are born until they accompany us on our final journey home to be with God in Heaven. Part 4 offers a modest prayer to honour our Angel Guardians and their devotion and faithfulness to their mission.

 

A Final Word of Encouragement

 

Many Christians, through no fault of their own, have been brought up in great ignorance of the privilege each member of the Church has: that is, to take their place daily and join the Savour in offering His Prayer of Thanksgiving to the Father. That is our birthright as members of His Body the Church of which He is the Head.

If you wish to rally to the cause and take up this privilege, we implore you not to leave prayer low on your priority list – something you do if you happen to be awake or if somehow some spare time falls out of the sky. Remember, when we present ourselves before God for prayer we become an organic part of the whole Body of Christ throughout the world at prayer, and are joined by the Angels and Saints in worshipping our Heavenly Father:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord
God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the Highest.

(Isaiah 6: 3 and Rev/Apoc. 4: 8)

We suggest that if we really believe in these truths we will be rather careful about presenting ourselves before God in an appropriate and dignified manner. Our Jewish and Christian forebears had no doubt that their faithfulness to this wonderful privilege was the very frontier line of the Church in the world – and they took delight in moving Christ’s Kingdom to encompass the whole earth. They would not give one thought to retreating, and nor should we.

Amen. Maranatha. Come Lord Jesus!

(Rev. / Apoc. 22: 20)