I’ve recently been rediscovering the immense value of fixed-hour prayers. I was first introduced to this ancient practice by a former colleague. During one of our conversations she mentioned that during a rough stretch of previous employment “praying the hours” helped her get through each day. Even if you aren’t going through a difficult season you can still engage in this practice. I’ve found that the benefits come from specifically turning our affections towards God at fixed times throughout the day.
explorefaith.org describes fixed hour prayer as this:
People have prayed at fixed hours during the day for centuries. Quietly easing away from the obligations of home or work, they take a few moments to spend time with God. These moments connect them to the Divine, and to the countless others who are also pausing to pray the prayers designated for that hour, on that day. Prayers whispered and chanted, spoken loud and clear or murmured silently within, all join together in a continuous flow, a river of words from our soul to God’s.
Pretty cool huh? If you’re looking for a resource to begin fixed-hour prayers I highly suggest snagging a copy of The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle. When the first edition came out several years ago it allowed individuals to rediscover this ancient discipline of focusing our prayers at fixed intervals throughout the day. There are now several editions available and you can peruse them at your favorite online/brick and mortar bookstore.
If you’re really itching to get started there is a great resource freely available thanks to the Vineyard Church in Ann Arbor, MI. They have made The Divine Hours available online. You can even localize the time so when you visit the page the correct prayers will display according to your time zone. Here’s the link: http://annarborvineyard.org/tdh/tdh.cfm Also, more in-depth information about fixed-hour prayer is found here.
In my personal conversations regarding fixed-hour prayer I’ve had some people tell me that reading prayers seems very impersonal. There is some truth to that statement. However, I’ve found that reading these prayers, especially out loud, will open avenues of conversations with God that I may not have realized. I’d encourage you to do both. Perhaps start with fixed-hour prayer and then move into a more personal time – using the written prayers as an impetus for your own words. We certainly don’t pray enough, at least I often feel that I don’t pray as much as I should. Using these prayers as a guide may unlock more opportunities for you to experience the love and goodness of God in new ways.
Til next time,