Practicing Fixed-Hour prayer

Since discovering the practice of fixed-hour prayer, I have used several of Phyllis Tickle’s prayer books as a resource for this practice. Tickle has three volumes of her Divine Hours prayer book series that make up the entire year. This include Prayers for Autumn & Winter, Prayers for Springtime and Prayers for Summertime. You can also purchase some smaller editions that coincide with certain seasons of the Christian year including Christmastide, Prayers for Advent through Epiphany and Eastertide, Prayers for Lent through Easter, which is the resource I am currently using. The Eastertide book is available here.

If you decide to begin using one of the resources to practice fixed hour prayer, let me just share a word of warning… It will feel weird at first. At least, it did for me. It felt very rigid and structured and in the first few weeks of my practice, it didn’t provide me with “inspiration.” Now, I would argue that much of our frustration we experience in whatever prayer life we are able to build is because we have inappropriate expectations of what is supposed to happen in that time. Feeling inspired every time we pray might be at the top of the list of inappropriate expectations to have for your prayer life. Certainly, inspiration is a part of our lives and a part of our private devotional life and corporate worship. Yet, I know that I am often sidetracked by what I expect to “get” out of a certain spiritual practice or worship experience.

So, I stuck with it. I decided to fight through my original discomfort. I bought my first moleskine journal [which is that black thing you see me carrying around all the time] during this time and decided to add a short journaling time after working through the prayer book. At that time, I was trying to participate in at least three of the prayer times [now I usually just squeeze in the morning readings and the evening time] and so I would simply write down a brief note about how the day was going.

As I continued the practice and I began to memorize many of the repetitive prayers that are scattered throughout the prayer book, the practice really grew on me. I do read all of the prayers and texts out loud to help me focus. Because of that, I usually try to find a quiet place at home either on the back porch or in my home office after everyone has gone to bed to do the readings. During Lent last year, Stephanie and I did the evening prayer time together and we’ve done that a few nights already this season.

I credit fixed-hour prayer as the practice that really has helped me enhance my journaling practice. I’d never really given a significant amount of energy to journalling, but it is something I treasure now. Sitting her in my office, I can see six old moleskines on my shelf which are filled with my reflections, struggles, fears, doubts, etc… over the past two years. There a great resource for me to consult when I need encouragement… not because they are filled with incredible insight, but because they remind me that I’m human. I struggle. I get frustrated. I get tired, but God has, is and always will be faithful.

So that’s a little bit about fixed hour practice and the way in which I practice it. It’s really nothing fancy except a consistent attention to prayer in your life. If you’re interested in trying it out during this Lenten season, let me know. I’d love to encourage you on that journey.

Tomorrow, I’ll probably be sharing some thoughts about fasting and sabbath as I continue to prepare for this Saturday’s message which will focus on those two practices. I’ll also be taking over 5,000 postcards to three different Post Offices in the metroplex to invite our community to come check out Saturday night. It should be a busy few days, but I’m really looking forward to worship at 6 p.m. this Saturday.

One more note…. I’m enjoying the blogging and would love to hear if you find it helpful. I’ll probably keep doing it regardless, but it’s helpful to know if it’s valuable for others as well. If you’d like, click on “comments” just below this post to share some feedback.

Peace.

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