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ESV: Book of Common Prayer Daily Office Lectionary

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I grew up in a Free Church tradition to the extreme. We made it a point to avoid anything that smelled of Catholicism (and most Baptist things, too). Some times our only reason for not doing things was "that's what the Catholics do." Because of this, our prayers were always off the cuff (I guess we never realized that the Baptists often did this too). We would frown at a person praying a prayer they had written earlier, let alone one that someone else had written. Yet, as has already been mentioned, many of these prayers said the same things over and over again. They were rout, and, in some cases, in vain. No thought or care was put into public prayer. You just stood in front of the church and said whatever came to mind. Sometimes we even prayed heresy without knowing it.

Because of this, I almost have an aversion to leading public prayer. Though in my current ministry context I do it weekly, I never feel comfortable about it. There's something about praying ancient words, whether they be from the Psalms or from the pen of one of the Saints, that is freeing to me. I am released from the burden of trying to use my prayers to perform. I am freed from the obligation I feel to make a great case to God so that he will answer my prayers. Praying the words of scripture or of the Saints give me words that I would never come up with on my own, and forces me to open my heart to God in ways that "off the cuff" prayers would never do.

As much as I dislike the "Prayer of Jabez" faze, at least it got many evangelicals exposed to the power of praying ancient words. Now if we could only start praying the Lord's Prayer and Te Deum.


Just wanted to say hi, and my interest has been perked by the talk of pre-written prayers. I guess i could be called one of those emerging post modern types, but then i hate being grouped with certain types. On the comment of liturgy (sp) in the emerging church.. when we do use it , it seems that it is clearly one of the more closer encounters that we share with God. I for one would love to use it , however I have to wait for the pendelum to swing back a little from where some of my folks are swinging in this emerging postmodern worship/teaching now. Great thoughts. God's blessings to you all.



I have grown to love praying the hours. The other night I "freestyle" prayed with my wife and it was wierd. Kind of like lifting light weights after heavy ones. It seems like when there is a read or memorized prayer involved, it's about God and then God some more. When I evangelical it, It usually ends up being about me. I mean, I tell the Lord he's awesome and I suck and everything, but it seems lacking. Most definately says more about my own prayer lexicon.

In regards to the emergent - reverted church: I wonder if the emergents aren't bringing the dicsiplines out into the mainstream. The non-emergent critics certainly target this very thing. I also wonder what the church will look like when it is done "emerging" and is just emerged...or perhaps just church.

Lastly, I love that in praying the hours, I am aligned in words, thoughts, and actions with my brothers and sisters of faith across all lines and denominations.

I think that's just...awesome!

Our Peace.

Dan Paden

" my tradition we rarely use Sola Scriptura. ;)"

Count on it: as soon as you see the words "in my tradition," you *know* you're not dealing with someone who affirms Sola Scriptura.

My guess, since you don't seem to think of extra-biblical tradition as binding on the conscience of the believer, is that you don't affirm Sola Ecclesia, either. The problem most of the Reformed--and in passing, it sometimes amazes me how broad Anglicanism is: they had the likes of Cranmer and Ridley, and even N.T. Wright, and now they put up with *Spong and Robinson,* for cryin' out loud. Makes it hard to know where an Anglican is coming from, y'know? But I digress--have with "tradition" is really with capital-T Tradition, that is, *authoritative* Tradition that is held to be equal to, if not superior to, the Scriptures.

Most people can't give a good definition of Sola Scriptura. They seem to think that affirming Sola Scriptura means that all traditions are thereby chucked in the waste bin. Hardly the case.

Didn't mean to get on my soapbox. Just one of the subjects that interests me, that's all.


This morning I sang - yes, sang! - the Venite before going out to a job interview. (In case anybody's keeping score, it was the S7 in the 1982 hymnal. That's my favorite; it's Anglican Chant, but it sounds good without the harmony, too.)

I bought a plainsong psalter not long ago and have started to sing the daily Psalms in prayer. (I admit, though, I've gone off my discipline a bit lately. Thanks for the reminder!)

Now, these tunes knock around in my head at other times, too. They're beautiful. Singing is praying twice.....


The fact is that reading the Daily Office puts you in contact with as much or more Scripture than random Bible readings. It's the single best way I know of to immerse yourself in the Scriptures. I try to pray the Offices every day and include spontaneous prayer in the space appointed for it. For me the spiritual life is about stable habits, not whims. Oddly, the better my "static" prayer life is the more I find myself praying at other times as well...

Fred K

Regarding "vain repetition," see Luke 18 (the whole chapter)


Sounds like a formula for sure success. Good luck with that!


Hi Dan,
Glad to see you posting on the blog. You are correct when you say this "It doesn't say that one was used, nor does it say that one was *not* used. It is impossible to determine on the basis of the material in question.". I wasn't very clear when mentioning those verses, but most of my understanding of the worship in the Temple and the just forming Church comes from historical sources that are only reflected in the Scriptures. As you say, just using the text, that can not be determined, but in my tradition we rarely use Sola Scriptura. ;)

No, you didn't seem harsh to me, simply pointing out what you saw in the posting, just as I would expect anyone to do. God bless you my friend.


Discipline. I think that's what the office or daily set prayers give.

It's very easy to pray and be filled in spirit-led settings, but the reality is that when at home I need a routine to help me.

Reading the Bible is one routine. But I also enjoy the Northumbrian office. There's a space for free-fall prayers, but there is a beauty and a rhythm to the set prayers which I love.

The comment about a reverting church made me laugh, but also hit a spot. There is a real need to dig the wells of our heritance. So get our those shovels - it's time to let go of the empty and the dead (in both tradition and contemporary style of worship) and release the flow of God into our lives. That's what counts!

Dan Paden

Hmmm--well, since you asked:
Christ's prohibition was against using "vain repetition," so my first thought is that as long as repetitious prayers or pre-written prayers are prayed thoughtfully with the full attention of the prayer warrior, that prohibition does not come into play.

Second thought: just about anybody who prays with regularity is prone to praying the same things over and over, sometimes even using the same words, sometimes without even thinking! This is true for the Baptist as well as for the Anglican, and is something, in my opinion, to be guarded against.

Third thought: whilst I haven't reviewed the Old Testament scriptures you cited, I did review those in Acts, and I can't help but wonder at your exegesis. Please bear in mind my comments on the legitimacy of liturgical prayer, for I don't want this to sound harsh: of the verses cited, two cannot be determined for certain to be examples of prayer at a set time, though they may well have been, and none of these verses make any reference to a preselected text. It doesn't say that one was used, nor does it say that one was *not* used. It is impossible to determine on the basis of the material in question.

Last thought, somewhat intertwined with the third: fundamentalists, the Reformed, etc., routinely have their "quiet times" at more-or-less the same hours each day--in my case, usually between 4:30 and 6:00 a.m. each day--so I don't think it can be established that very many people would have a problem with set times of prayer. Even the Bible-belt acquaintances you refer to don't make an issue of it, at least according to your italicized text--so why bring it up? It is a side issue, not really related to the main one: rote prayers. If defense against charges of engaging in "vain repetition" is what you seek, I think you can do better than the verses you selected, for they really have nothing to do with it.

Probably sounds harsh, I don't mean it to be. It's actually an interesting question, and I don't fault you for liturgical prayer--just for exegetical work that I know you could have done better.

susan rose

I find that I need a prayer "repetoire." In the past, when something wasn't working for me, I thought that it was that I couldn't pray. Instead I've just found that I need to shift gears sometimes. Get out of my own head and into the sacred moment.

That said, pre-written prayers and scripture can be very powerful. There have been times when I have been amazed at how something written so long ago speaks to ME at this moment.

Also, the idea of joining in prayer with men and women across the globe - there's something powerful to that.

My thoughts...


Thank you... Thank you... Thank you...

These days it seems all you hear about is postmodernism and emergence... Its almost like we want new for the sake of new.

I wish someone would start a Reverting Church where we could feast on the sayings of Desert Fathers, Cappadocian Fathers, Merton and Aquinas...

Although a staunch Protestant, I see and feel the beauty of the liturgy in Orthodoxy. I appreciate the beauty of the worship and agree that somewhere in the middle is the spirit & truth in which we should worship.


Any form of religious practice can be empty and dead regardless of form. Both memorized and "spontaneous" words can be prayed out of obligation and fear without faith.

I have been on both sides and I find need for both. However, I am growing in my appreciation of the richness there is in liturgy and pre-written prayers as well as the depth of connection I find to the body of Christ that is not limited by space or time.

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