The Book of Common Prayer

Awhile back I wrote about my prayer life coming back from the dead. A large part of this has been due to The Book of Common Prayer (BCP). Recently, my boys have become curious about "Dad's prayer book." The last week or so they have been asking for Jana or I to bring it to their bedtime prayers. They flip through the pages of Prayers and Thanksgivings toward the back and find a prayer that seems to be on a topic they would like to pray about. Personally, I pray this prayer for Social Justice a lot:

Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may so
move every human heart [and especially the hearts of the
people of this land], that barriers which divide us may
crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; that our
divisions being healed, we may live in justice and peace;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
And I always gravitate to the prayer attributed to that spiritual hero of mine: St. Francis:
Lord, make us instruments of your peace. Where there is
hatred, let us sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where
there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where
there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where
there is sadness, joy. Grant that we may not so much seek to
be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is
in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that we
are born to eternal life. Amen.
The last few nights I've introduced the boys to Compline, the prayer said before retiring. We hand the BCP around and each of us reads a part of the Compline service. As I've written about before, my favorite part of Compline is this prayer (which is optional, but I always add it because it is my favorite):
Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or
weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.
And with all this time in the BCP the boys are getting very good at saying the Gloria:
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
I have no idea how long this curiosity of the boys will last, but it's been fun this last few weeks.

If you care to know, my new favorite part of the BCP is The Great Litany which can be added to the Morning or Evening Office. A favorite passage from The Great Litany:
That it may please thee to make wars to cease in all the world;
to give to all nations unity, peace, and concord; and to
bestow freedom upon all peoples,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to show thy pity upon all prisoners
and captives, the homeless and the hungry, and all who are
desolate and oppressed,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to give and preserve to our use the
bountiful fruits of the earth, so that in due time all may enjoy
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to inspire us, in our several callings,
to do the work which thou givest us to do with singleness of
heart as thy servants, and for the common good,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve all who are in danger by
reason of their labor or their travel,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to preserve, and provide for, all
women in childbirth, young children and orphans, the
widowed, and all whose homes are broken or torn by strife,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to visit the lonely; to strengthen all
who suffer in mind, body, and spirit; and to comfort with thy
presence those who are failing and infirm,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to support, help, and comfort all who
are in danger, necessity, and tribulation,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.

That it may please thee to have mercy upon all mankind,
We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord.
But truth be told, when I first got my BCP I couldn't make heads or tails of it. It really needs an instruction manual. When I started I didn't know an "Office" from a "Collect" or how to make sense of the lectionary (Was I to start with Year One or Year Two? And which were the morning psalms and which were the evening psalms?). I eventually found my way forward with the BCP with a little Internet research. Lots of very helpful people and churches have put resources online to get you oriented to the BCP and how you can use it for prayer. This site does a nice job walking you through the Evening Office (which is very similar to the Morning Office) as it includes pictures of the relevant pages from the BCP. It also gives advice on using markers to get around the BCP during the Office. (I've settled on four ribbon markers. One at the Office I'm saying--Morning, Evening or Compline, one at the lectionary, one at the Collects and one at the Prayers and Thanksgivings. I don't mark the psalms as I read those out of my bible.)

To be very honest, I hate blogging about prayer. It makes me seem so...pious. For a variety of reasons, I really don't like it when people talk about their prayer life. Never have. It always feels so paternalistic. A mix of bragging, scolding, and judging. If you have a great prayer life, great. Keep it to yourself.

So here I am, playing the hypocrite.

But that's just it. My prayer life is really holding on by a thread. And that thread is The Book of Common Prayer. So I thought I'd share hoping that the BCP might help some of you as it has helped me.

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