Guest post by Shane Claiborne and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove.
A few years ago, a bunch of activist-types and a bunch of prayer-warriors got together to create a prayer book that would help us live with the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. We were all convinced that prayer and action cannot be divorced from each other, and that Jesus and justice have to kiss. So we formed a team of liturgy experts, church leaders, grassroots organizers, and justice activists, and we began plotting goodness together. After a long and expectant labor, we just gave birth… to a little book and web resource called Common Prayer.
Common Prayer is a book for folks who love God and want to make the world a better place. Whether you are over-churched or under-churched, a proud evangelical, a recovering evangelical, or not evangelical at all; whether you are high-church, low-church, or no-church, a skeptic or a Pentecostal; whether you are a political activist, political agnostic, or a political misfit; whether you have found a community or have burnt out on community… we had you in mind as we created Common Prayer.
Common Prayer is a tool to help the whole church pray together.
It’s for families to use together, for small groups, even for whole congregations. It’s for students to use in their dorms and for co-workers to gather around on a break at work. We hope that this little project will help communities, non-profits, movements, and ministries breathe together as one.
There are morning prayers for each day of the year where we look at “This Day in History” and remember landmark events in history like Rwanda’s Genocide, Mandela’s release from prison, the bombing of Nagasaki, the assassination of Oscar Romero. It is a way of remembering history together—both the glimpses of heaven that we want to celebrate and the terrible things we dare not forget.
Common Prayer also has midday prayers folks can pray together at work or school, simple enough to memorize. And there are evening prayers for each night of the week so families and small groups can say goodnight to God and to each other. Throughout the book we recommend books and films, and suggest some holy habits to try out. And the whole thing is sprinkled with original artwork, new icons for a new day.
And just because hymnals are in danger of extinction doesn’t mean we should stop singing. We’ve complied about 50 of the Greatest Hits of the Church from the centuries and put them into a little songbook, where you will find old spirituals and freedom songs, classic hymns and sing-a-longs, Taize chants and timeless benedictions. We’re not just talking about classic 80s CCM but stuff that’s from the 800s, songs and prayers that have lasted through the centuries.
Bringing all of these great resources together, we’ve felt like small town choir directors who got invited to direct a world class symphony. It’s a great gift to get to share these treasures with sisters and brothers around the world. So, let us pray… and may be we become the answer to our prayers.
About the authors of Common Prayer
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is an associate minister at St. Johns Baptist Church. A graduate of Duke Divinity School, Jonathan is engaged in reconciliation efforts in Durham, North Carolina, directs the School for Conversion (newmonasticism.org), and is a sought-after speaker and author of several books. The Rutba House, where Jonathan lives with his wife, Leah, their son, JaiMichael, daughter, Nora Ann, and other friends, is a new monastic community that prays, eats, and lives together, welcoming neighbors and homeless. Find out more at jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com.
Enuma Okoro was born in the United States and raised in Nigeria, Ivory Coast, and England. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Duke Divinity School where she served as Director for the Center for Theological Writing. Currently, she is a writer, speaker, and workshop/retreat leader. The author of Reluctant Pilgrim (http://reluctantpilgrim.wordpress.com/), Enuma lives in Raleigh, North Carolina.