"They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer". -Acts 2:42
Jacob's Well, holds to a life of spirituality that keeps three strands of purpose in tension...Head(Theology), Heart(Spirituality) and Hands(Mission). All three areas of our Christian life must be full and robust, deeply rooted in Christ, empowered by the Spirit and offered all for the Glory of God.
We are working to become a prayerful, missional body of believers and as part of that endeavor; we are working into our rule of community life...a prayer rhythm. Everyone says prayer is important but we are seldom truly mentored in how to live a prayerful life. Prayer seems daunting, dry and often a mystery. You hear conflicting teaching on it and sometimes it seems like it's pointless. Life is already busy and we find ourselves living in the place between ideal and reality...and that often means our devotional life gets pushed to the back of the line.
Guilt, failure, mindless distractions, fruitless charismatic incantations, retreat and conference recommitment's...all lay littered behind us, discarded good intentions. In the end many people settle for a life of God thoughts and just call it prayer; yet, they know that their inner lives are far from "flowing with living water" as Jesus promised but they simply don't know how to get the water out of the well.
Bob Dylan said: "The pump don't work cause the vandals took the handle"
I think as Reformation Protestants we have suffered from a disconnect with the Ancient practices of prayer in an attempt to distance ourselves from the errors and abuses of Rome. An understandable and healthy concern..but in discarding the dirty Roman water of works based spirituality; we have thrown out the baby of ancient practices for spiritual development. Faith enriching practices like fasting, solitude, giving, prayer, worship, pilgrimage and others have been abandoned...or truncated but nothing much has truly filled the void. People are left to themselves as to how to "live" this Christian stuff. It gets reduced to TRUTH statements that they are told to believe...but nobody seems to know how to LIVE out...this LIFE.
Truly the Vandals have stolen the handle....
Part of our attempts to give people "handles" for nurturing and developing their walks in Christ is some structured prayer helps. These tools combine scripture and written prayers to provide a "trellis" for a deeply prayerful life to grow up, through and upon. Like a trellis...these have no life in themselves....they are a means for life to grow upon. They can be dead words on a page...or words that your heart and soul get poured into and offered to God in worship and prayer.
We have set times throughout the day to keep us tethered to a God-ward focus and a prayerful rhythm. Each Office of the Hour is short (only about 12 minutes) but once you complete the Four Offices in a day...you will notice that you have prayed for everyone and everything that is probably most important to you. You will find that you are no longer a hypocrite who says they will pray but then forgets or has to admit...it was just the "christian" thing to say, when someone shares something personal.
I hope getting reacquainted with these tools or discovering them for the first time will assist you in nurturing a more prayerful life.
Here is the Divine Hours prayer material:
These are offered as a simple tool to help us pause and turn our hearts and minds more God-ward through prayer and scripture at four set times during the day.
-“Italicized” words are meant for group recital.
-The [n] is where you lift the names of people that come to your mind when you read the various statements that precede the symbol.
As a community were are setting 7AM, 12Noon, 5PM and 9PM; as the set hours to pray together. So, no matter where we are, together or separate...we are still joined in the rhythm and practice of prayer.
Obviously you are free to pray whenever, these times are no law...we simply want to do this together when its possible.
If you are interested in a print version, the one we are using at Jacob’s Well is: Venite