The 2019 Book of Common Prayer (a review)
Every Christian develops their own habit of prayer. Prayer times can take many forms. You can pray in the car on long trips. You can pray while you walk the dog. You can pray in a deserted laundromat while your clothes are in the dryer. You can read collections of prayer. You can open your heart and speak honestly and spontaneously in your own words. There’s no need to judge another’s prayer routine as right or wrong since prayer is an expression of our own unique personalities to our heavenly Father. I love the definition of prayer we learned in the 40 days of prayer: Prayer is the conversational part of our most important love relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. I’m not fussy about how people should pray. A good prayer routine is one that helps you get closer to Jesus and live in obedient communion with him.
Recently I bought a brand new 2019 Book of Common Prayer published by the Anglican Church in North America (purchase for $20 at http://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/). The Book of Common Prayer has been around for a millennia in the English speaking world. I felt the need to take my prayer life to a higher level of discipline and substance. John Wesley used the Book of Common Prayer for his two hour prayer time each day. He wrote, “I believe there is no liturgy in the world, either in ancient or modern language, which breathes more of a solid, scriptural, rational piety, than the Common Prayer of the Church of England.”
How can this book help me in prayer? I made the decision to pray the morning office and the evening office each day. Each service is laid out in a four part routine:
Confession of sin
Praise--including a 30-day schedule for reading through the Psalms
Bible reading--including a one-year reading plan printed in the back of the book.
Prayer--including the Apostle’s creed, the Lord’s prayer and several printed prayers for each day of the week and a time for personal prayers
The book includes the entire book of Psalms in the Coverdale translation edited by no less a figure than C.S. Lewis. As a plus all the other scriptures are from my favorite translation--the English Standard Version. So I take my Bible and prayer book to my chair and spend 40-45 minutes with Jesus in the morning and evening. I often whisper the Psalms and prayers out loud but quietly read the scriptures to myself. It’s really helping me to keep my mind from drifting. I am focused on listening to the voice of Jesus and speaking to him. I’m enthusiastic about reading through the entire Bible on a yearly basis. I get on my knees each morning to pray the written confession of sin and I’ve found this to be a sobering and humbling spiritual moment each time.
I once tried this before years ago with the old 1979 Book of Common Prayer but found it to be laid out in a confusing way. This 2019 edition is much more user friendly. I’m pretty sure this pattern for prayer is not for everyone. But if you’re looking for a challenge to raise your level of diligence and maturity, this might be it. Is there a place for formal, liturgical prayer in a contemporary and informal world? I say yes there is--in my personal morning and evening prayers.