Guest post by Tim Otto, member of the Church of the Soujourners in San Francisco, CA.
I’ve dragged my body, for the last ten years, to morning prayers with my housemates. In spite of that effort, my heart hasn’t always made it there along with the rest of me (I’m fond of the saying, “If God had intended us to see the sunrise God would have scheduled it later in the day.”).
We’ve tried traditional prayer liturgies, but by the time we trudge into the third Psalm, I find that I’ve usually lost the trail, and my mind is wandering elsewhere. We’ve tried “evangelical prayers,” but in those early, tired hours, there are so many awkward silences, and so many petty petitions. We’ve tried centering prayer, but the silence so often slips into sleep.
Perhaps I’m just a hopeless case—a modern, attention deficit disordered person, incapable of real prayer.
But I find myself re-inspired by the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Just like my beloved morning cup of coffee, Common Prayers feels stout and rousing. It awakens my sleepy brain and heart with its combination of songs, responsive readings, scripture, historical reflections—all pointing to a common theme. Somehow the diversity—all pointing to a unity—wakes me up and helps me remember what my life is about, and my desire for God. The content feels modern and timely, and yet it draws from the ancient. It provokes, and ponders, and prods, and preaches, and … it prays.
I still wish morning prayers were later in the day, but in the meantime, I’m glad that Common Prayer helps me pay attention and awakens me to God.
- Tim Otto, The Church of the Sojourners, San Francisco
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