Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Peacefully resolved to …

With princes breathing down his neck, the psalmist finds peace and is resolved to tremble at God’s word and to find joy in God’s promise. How does he do so? I suspect this is how:
He’s peacefully resolved to love the law, the Torah. “I hate and abhor falsehood; but I love your law” (163). It is not clear why he contrasts his love for the Torah with hating falsehood, but it is not out of character — in fact, it is in character — for him to be contrasting his own love with the wickedness of his opponents. They hate and abhor Torah and they love falsehood.
So much does the psalmist love the Torah that he says this:
“Seven times a day I praise you
for your righteous ordinances” (119:164).
This is the origin, or should we say the text on which the practice was pinned, for the early Christian practice of praying seven times a day, for the seven hours of prayer. I have introduced this practice in my Praying with the Church.
The Office of Readings (formerly Matins), major hour
Morning prayer (Lauds), major hour
Midmorning prayer (Terce)
Midday prayer (Sext)
Midafternoon prayer (None)
Evening prayer (Vespers), major hour
However you practice these, or whatever you think of the practice, the psalmist evidently praised God seven times a day — is he exaggerating? is referring to a discipline? We don’t know, but we do know that the Church has for at least 1800 years found its way to set apart times during the day to refocus on God, to sing God’s psalms, and to pray as a community.
Night Prayer (Compline)

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L.L. Barkat

posted March 21, 2007 at 11:27 am

I think the suggestion to “pray without ceasing” might keep us from doing this more formal thing. But then some of us never pray at all.

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