George Guiver CR  

For many people trying to pray every day is not a straightforward business. We don’t always have the time; things crop up and get in the way; we may not be the mood, or we forget. We might not even think we need to pray every day.

Many people struggle with prayer. Jesus, however, said we had to persevere with it – he knew that prayer is the absolute foundation of authentic Christian living. If we don’t walk with God every day of our life how can we infect others with knowledge of him? How can we ourselves live our daily lives with faith and joy?

Part of the problem can be our ideas about prayer. We have an expectation that prayer must be deeply personal, when if it is only that it cannot in fact be called Christian! Christian prayer is always shared. When the disciples asked Jesus “teach us to pray”, he replied with, “Our Father ...”, not “My Father”, “give us this day our daily bread”, not “give me this day in my daily bread”. Ultimately, Christian prayer is always “we”-prayer. We are the body of Christ, many organs in one Body. When I pray I am never alone – when saying the Lord’s Prayer, people will be saying it with me in Honolulu, Paris, Shanghai and all over the globe. They are supporting me, I am supporting them. We are the Body of Christ. In the end, for Christians, there is no such thing as private prayer.

This leads on to another thing. Modern Christians expect that prayer should be an experience – this however is not quite right. Think of family life. How often do we sit and stare at each other, trying to concentrate on each other? We would drive each other mad! Most of the time we relate in a fairly humdrum way while we are giving attention to other things. We have no reason to expect that relating to God should be any different. In family life there will be special experiences, there will be the nice moments but there will be plenty of humdrum getting-on with it. As St Benedict was keen to say, prayer is work. Like life with others, you have to work at it: you simply have to get on with it.

If we now return to our attempts to pray every day, we can perhaps see that we might be expecting the wrong things about daily prayer. It will require perseverance and constancy and it will need to be prayer that is aware of the Body of Christ, the Church. This is where we now meet one of the great traditions of Christian life – the daily prayer of the Church. In its basic form this consists of psalms and shared prayers. In the Anglican church it is called ”the Daily Office”. It can take a variety of forms. The clergy have an obligation to pray Morning and Evening Prayer as it is set out in Common Worship every day, wherever possible doing it with their people. Some lay Christians will find they can do this but others of us probably need something simpler. You can find in any church bookshop many kinds of books providing a daily office, some of which are very simple. Here below is an extremely simple suggestion for anyone who wants to try to start the discipline of daily prayer with the Church: this simple version presumes you will pray just once each day and it gives you one psalm to say (or, better, to sing) for each day of the month. Follow that with some suitable prayers and you are beginning to pray the prayer of the Church. Gradually you will come to want more and then you can move on to other forms that are provided, such as the A Week of Simple Offices published by the Community and available from our bookshop (bookshop@mirfield.org.uk; tel +44 (0)1924 483334.

Another possibility is to have a parish project – people signing up to commit themselves to pray daily together wherever they may be, at an agreed time, so that even if each is alone, they know they are praying with the others. We have to remember – a Church that walks together with God is a Church that will thrive and draw others to it. Happy praying! 

A short form of Daily Prayer

The simplest form of daily prayer could include:  

·              “In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”

·              One psalm

·              The Lord's Prayer

·              Perhaps other prayers.

Day     Psalm  

1            8

2          19

3          22

4          23

5          24

6          27

7          32

8          33

9          34

10        42

11        46

12        51

13        65

14        67

15        84

16        90

17        96

18        103

19        104

20        118

21        123

22        126 & 127

23        130

24        133 & 134

25        138

26        139

27        145

28        146

29        148    

30        149

31        150

After each  psalm say:

Glory to the Father

and to the Son

and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning,

is now and shall be for ever. Amen