Some years ago, when Kris and I were in England and I was working on my Ph.D., we attended St. Peter’s Toton, an Anglican church outside Nottingham. It was our first-ever experience of The Book of Common Prayer. Two things stood out in those days: (1) those prayers were mighty prayers and (2) lots of spontaneous prayers were, no matter how sincere, well … sloppy. I could say more. A few years back my editor at Paraclete, Lil Copan, was sitting down at dinner with Kris and me and said this to me:
“We need a book that introduces us to the great prayer books in the Church.” Not thinking for a minute that she had anyone in mind but someone who was already in a liturgical tradition, I started making suggestions of what we needed. She started taking notes. At the end of which time, with a napkin full of notes, she said, “Would you write this book?” I said, “Good grief, Lil, I’ve got lots to write.” Then I said, “I need to.” So I did… it is called Praying with the Church. Once you read it and use for the prayer books themselves, you can give my book away. I don’t care. I’d like to see more of us using prayer books. You’ll be surprised. Don’t worry. It’s not liberal. Prayer books have their roots in the Bible — the Psalms are a prayer book used by Israel, including Jesus and Paul and all the others. Until we low church Protestants got the idea that we could do it all on our own. Bad idea.
I now give one apologetic for praying with the church by quoting here one prayer that, if said in the evening as Kris and I did last night, says all that needs to be said about that…
May the Lord Almighty grant us and those we love a peaceful night and a perfect end.
The little + is a sign of the cross signal. Which I practice.