Prayer and worship have always been a part of the lives of God’s people. The most basic form of this for Christians is on Sunday morning, when believers from all over gather together to sing common songs, pray common prayers, eat the same Lord’s Supper, hear the same Word preached, and celebrate the same holy seasons and days. And, for most strands of Christendom, other times of weekly and daily prayer and worship have been seen as vital and necessary for living a faithful life of discipleship.
This guide is an entrance into that experience — of common prayer and worship. Here you will find a daily liturgy for morning and evening prayer. It is a holy and unifying experience to know that you, you local congregation, and the Church of Jesus around the world are worshiping together in a common way at any given time, whether gathered or scattered.
So, how is one expected to use this guide?
- Each week will start with a brief introduction of a common theme
- A suggested list of postures and practices
- Two prayers to frame the week — one traditional and one that is more modern and meditative.
After this, you will find the daily prayer liturgies. You’ll notice that there is no liturgy for Sunday morning, only for Sunday evening. This reminds us to gather with the local congregation for worship on the Lord’s Day. If you happen to attend a Sunday evening service, then please use the evening prayer for your morning prayer time.
Each day of liturgy is framed by common elements:
SILENCE OR SONG: We live a loud and chaotic world, internally and externally. Silence is a counter-cultural act. It is good to pause in God’s presence, to listen for His voice. This is also a time for singing. You are encouraged to choose companion songs for you and yours to sing at this time, particularly if they remind you of the common theme that week. Consider noting your order of worship from church on Sunday and using those songs for the week; or you are encouraged to consult this streaming playlist to center yourselves around the truth in God’s Word.
PSALMS: The psalms are the official prayerbook & songbook of the people of God, given to us in the Scriptures. They have two purposes: first, they give us the words to express to God all the different postures and emotions that we experience in human life; second, they help to form our loves through the praying/singing of the words.
SCRIPTURE READINGS: The Scriptures give us the God-given script after which we pattern our lives, and contain the very words of life, itself. As John DelHousaye has said, “Look at scripture and you are, essentially, looking at acts of worship frozen into words that are waiting to be warmed by their reading and hearing.” May it be so.
CONFESSION & ASSURANCE: This is a time to examine our lives, confess our sins, and receive anew God’s love for us.
SPACE FOR REFLECTION: Latin for divine reading. This is an ancient form of Christian prayer with four steps: read, meditate, pray, contemplate. The practice here is to let the Scriptures be the means through which we encounter and behold God, and not as the primary instruction or teaching manual from God to be exegeted. We hear and read back over the Scriptures, noticing things that speak to us, we meditate and chew on the words, we pray through those Scriptures in a holy dialogue with the Triune God, and finally, we contemplate, meaning we bask in our communion with God through the Holy Spirit, experiencing what Bernard of Clairvaux called a “kiss” from God that assures us of our union with the Father, Son, and Spirit.
PROMPTED PRAYERS: Prompts that help us respond to the scriptures and remind us to pray for all people in all stations of human life.
TRADITIONAL & MEDITATIVE PRAYERS: There will be a variety of prayers throughout this guide from traditional prayers like the Lord’s Prayer to more modern and meditative prayers taken from a great book by Kari Kristina Reeves called Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer. Let these prayers search you out and guide you on. You’ll even find sections of hymn texts to help you pray or sing, which Augustine has reminded us is “praying twice.”
BENEDICTIONS: We close our day with a word of love over lives from God Himself, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.
BIOGRAPHY + RESOURCES
The layout and format of the daily liturgies are inspired by two chief sources:
• Seeking God’s Face (Baker/CICW/Faith Alive, ©2013) by Phillip Reinders
• The Book of Common Prayer of the Church of England (citations noted with BCP).
This prayer guide features many prayers from Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer by Kari Kristina Reeves (©2016 Atlas Spiritual Designs), which can be purchased at www.exploreatlas.org (citations noted with Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer).
All scripture readings are from the English Standard Version (©2001, Crossway).
Other works cited:
• Liturgy of the Ordinary by Tish Harrison Warren (InterVarsity Press, ©2016)
• Living the Christian Year by Bobby Gross (InterVarsity Press, ©2009)
• “Keeping A Holy Lent” by Rev. Craig Higgins of Trinity Presbyterian of Rye, NY.
• The Worship Sourcebook, 2nd Ed. (Baker/CICW/Faith Alive, ©2013)
May we all experience deep communion and transformation over this season as we learn, together, to pray without ceasing.
WEEK ONE | HUMILITY
He (Jesus) also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:9-14)
Let’s focus on humility and its converse: pride. Meditate on this well-known passage above, and notice again how deeply it cuts to the heart. In the parable, the posture of the prideful Pharisee is revealed through contempt. Jesus shows us a different way to live. He shows us that true love for God and neighbor springs only out of a heart that is touched by the undeserved mercy of God (“Be merciful to me, a sinner!”). The degree to which we understand our need for God’s grace is the degree that we will be able to truly love others. This is revealed, as the parable shows, in how we love those we perceive to be our enemies, those who hold positions or ways of life that we find disturbing or offensive.
In Christ, we live into the scripture that tells us that we are not to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think, “but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned,” (Romans 12:3). May God work sober judgment and humble love into our
thoughts, words, and deeds this very week.
POSTURES + PRACTICES
- Fast from food and/or media, but consider practicing Sundays as a day of feasting.
- Practice hospitality: open up your home to those in need.
- Practice a posture of humility in prayer, such as kneeling.
- Serve another in a way that is unseen or unheralded.
- Practice the prayer “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!”
TRADITIONAL COLLECT: Almighty God, you know that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves: Keep us both outwardly in our bodies and inwardly in our souls, that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ, our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (BCP)
MEDITATIVE PRAYER: Jesus, give me the petition for a humble heart. I barely know how to ask. Say it for me; please speak to the Father on my behalf. You know humility pristinely. Please give me this gift, as I bow before you. (Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer)
DAY ONE | EVENING PRAYER
SILENCE [2 min]
Silence, stillness, and centering before the God of our salvation.
O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him? Yet you have made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor… O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
(Psalms 8:1-5, 9)
A MEDITATIVE PRAYER
Jesus, give me the petition for a humble heart. I barely know how to ask. Say it for me; please speak to the Father on my behalf. You know humility pristinely. Please give me this gift, as I bow before you. (Canyon Road: A Book of Prayer)
NEW TESTAMENT READING
Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple. Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is filly with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.” So let no one boast in men.
(1 Corinthians 3:16-23)
- For a heart that senses the majesty of God
- For the lonely and despised
- For churches all over the world
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. (James 4:10)
SILENCE [2 min]
Silence and stillness, as God has the last word to finish the day. He labors while you sleep.