Saturday, December 12, 2009

December 11th and 12th and 13th

31 Days of Jesus - Days 11 and 12 and 13!

Fixed Hour Prayer

Sigh. I did it. I missed a day. Sorry. :(

It was semi-intentional. I had planned to write at some point [and I had figured out what the day was going to be about]. But I still hadn't done it at 11pm. For the past few days I've spent the last hour of the day racing to finish this blog. Aside from the fact that that's not incredibly Jesus-centered [I wasn't actually contemplating that at all], I was really tired. So, I committed to writing in the morning, and curled up with a good book [Phyllis Tickle's autobiography The Shaping of a Life: A Spiritual Landscape]. Jermaine is on the middle school retreat so Sadie cozied up next to me and read The Mitten and Thundercake [we'll not talk about why she was up at 11pm].

My friend Amie lent me the book I'm reading now. It seems very fitting to mention her. And to mention Ms. Tickle. Amie introduced me to the wonderful world of spiritual disciplines. I was visiting Charlotte a couple of years ago and I chanced to attend a Bible study she was leading [which happened to be about the disciplines]. Although I didn't realize it at the time, that Bible study absolutely changed my life. It opened up a world to me [a "spiritual landscape" you might say] that I was completely unaware existed. And she raved about Phyllis Tickle, who compiled these books called The Divine Hours, which brings me back to the subject at hand.

Fixed Hour Prayer is a practice that has been around since the birth of Christianity[and long before, in fact]. This link at Phyllis Tickle's website offers a brilliant explanation of what this discipline is all about. I will [attempt to] give you the abbreviated version.

Wait. No, scratch that. Ms. Tickle says it way better than I could. Here is an excerpt from her website detailing Fixed Hour Prayers origin:

Fixed-hour prayer is the oldest form of Christian spiritual discipline and has its roots in the Judaism out of which Christianity came. When the Psalmist says, "Seven times a day do I praise You," he is referring to fixed-hour prayer as it existed in ancient Judaism. We do not know the hours that were appointed in the Psalmist's time for those prayers. By the turn of the era, however, the devout had come to punctuate their work day with prayers on a regimen that followed the flow of Roman commercial life. Forum bells began the work day at six in the morning (prime, or first hour), sounded mid-morning break at nine (terce, or third hour), the noon meal and siesta or break at twelve (sext, or sixth hour), the re-commencing of trade at three (none, or ninth hour), and the close of business at six (vespers). With the addition of evening prayers and early prayers upon arising, the structure of fixed-hour prayer was established in a form that is very close to that which Christians still use today. []

I fell in love with The Divine Hours because I wanted to pray more, but I didn't know what to say. With this practice, I'm reading the Lord's Prayer, certain selected poems and songs, and passages from the Bible. I don't end up feeling like my prayer is too self-centered. And, it's all about praising God - something I've never been fully able to wrap my mind around - or practice with a spontaneous prayer without feeling completely ridiculous.

I don't know if I'm explaining this adequately, but in a way, I feel like the best way to learn is just to do it. This link will give the prayers for the appointed time [it's also the first link on PT's resource page]. She arranges it a little bit differently than the passage above. Her fixed hours are 6-9am, 11am-2pm, 5-8pm, and the Vesper's [right before bed]. The actual reading takes about 5 minutes and you are supposed to read it on a half-hour [so, for the first one, you would read it at either 6, 6:30, 7, 7:30, 8, 8:30 or 9am]. But, don't sweat it if the timing is off. Especially if you've never done this before. Just try it. Read the prayers out loud if you can. This is another one of those practices that you see the "fruit" of it or the results while living life. Although, you could totally experience God while reading through them [and actually, the New Testament has several stories of apostles doing just that!].

I have a lot of studying to do. But, I'm going to try to get a little bit of the Sabbath good stuff tomorrow. That's, of course, why I included it today. But also, I think it's important to try to get into the rhythm of the Divine Hours. I'm hoping two days will help you to begin to do that. :)

1 comment:

AbominableAmie said...

LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! YOU! And PHYLLIS TICKLE. I hope to meet her some day.

Your blog is rocking my life right now.