By Rev. Craig Love
Lent is the season for fasting from creaturely pleasures for a time, but it also offers the right amount of time to establish new habits of prayer.
Among the many prayers spoken under the sun, some are unscripted, pleas & praise said spontaneously, while others are scripted, words read off the page or from memory. Both kinds of prayer are meaningful ways of drawing closer to God, but most people show a strong preference for one or the other.
This Lent, I encourage you to practice the type that is beyond your current comfort zone. For English speakers, the Book of Common Prayer provides prayer scripts unequalled by any other Christian tradition.
The language of the Prayer Book is notably different from the speech we use every day, but it is memorable & powerful, gaining depth the more it is repeated. Depending on the time of day you have available, you might say Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer — or both. If your time is limited, there are shortened services for each near the back of the BCP. These can be lengthened as desired by including prayers & thanksgivings from pages 39-61.
For Anglicans (many of whom already say one or more of these daily services), the idea of talking to God “off the cuff” can sound irreverent. But opening up to God the way we would to our most intimate friend is a way of formally recognizing, in ordinary language, that God is “acquainted with all [our] ways.”
Psalm 139 provides many other images that make our intimacy with God very clear. It can be useful as a jumping off point, helping to overcome mental stumbling-blocks that keep us from enjoying life in Christ.
Rev. Craig Love is Assistant Curate of St. Thomas the Apostle and St. Luke’s, Cambridge.