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Fixed Hour Prayer

Purpose

To develop a habit of praying regularly. To join with the church universal in praying together at fixed hours.

Introduction

Jesus and the Jews of his day prayed at set hours of the day. After Jesus’ death, his disciples continued to pray at fixed hours of the day. This became part of the early church’s rhythm of prayer.[1] This practice has continued in certain faith traditions (Catholic and Anglican/Episcopalian) and has regained popularity in recent years.

Fixed hour prayer is a way of developing the habit of regularly praying during the day. It is also a way of joining with Christian brothers and sisters around the world who pause what they are doing, on the hour, to spend time in prayer. Calhoun believes that “Since all time belongs to God, why not punctuate the entire cycle of day and night with regular times for prayer?”[2]

Benedictines today punctuate their work day with the following prayer rhythms:

  • Night prayer—Vigils
  • Waking-up prayers—Lauds
  • Prayers for beginning work—Prime
  • Giving thanks prayers in mid-morning—Terce
  • Noon-day prayer of commitment—Sext
  • Mid-afternoon prayer—None
  • Evening prayer of stillness—Vespers
  • Going-to-sleep prayer of trust—Compline [3]

http://www.rejesus.co.uk/site/plain_page/daily_prayer

Practice

To start of with, establish one set time to pray every day, it could be upon waking in the morning, or a set hour before going to bed. After this habit has been established (after a few weeks) add another. Try the Divine Hours (see below), the daily offices can be found at http://annarborvineyard.org/tdh/tdh.cfm, or try a prayasyougo.org podcast (see below), or you could pray with the Psalms, practice the Examen or Lectio Divina, or simply converse with God. Find a type of prayer that works for you and make it a daily fixed-hour practice. See appendix II for some additional prayers to use for this practice.

The Divine Hours

The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle is a manual for fixed-hour prayer. It presents the prayers to be prayed at the divine hours of every day: Morning prayers, for prayer between 6 and 9; midday prayers for praying between 11 and 2; and evening prayers to pray between 5 and 8, and help us gently close the day. Praying the hours enjoins us to stop, let go of all that occupies us, and focus on the sacred at regular intervals throughout the day. Suddenly, every day becomes holy, for every day is laced together by our appointments with God.[4] Phyllis Tickle describes the Divine Hours as “prayers of praise offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving and faith to God and as a sweet-smelling incense of the human soul before the throne of God. To offer them is to serve before that throne as the priesthood of all believers. It is to assume the ‘office’ of attendant upon the Divine.”[5]

Pray as you go

If you are more of an auditory processor, Pray-as-you-go is a daily prayer podcast of about 10-13 minutes that comprises firstly some music, which is highly diverse and can range from the African acapella group Ladysmith Black Mambazo through to Gregorian chants. The music clip is then followed by a reading of a passage of scripture to meditate on, and this followed by a few questions for personal reflection, followed by the scripture reading again. It takes about10-13 minutes and there is a new prayer session for each day. It is produced by the British Jesuits and follows the liturgical calendar.[6]

Remember

Like a double helix rendered elegant by complexity and splendid by authority, the amalgam of gospel and shared mea with the discipline of fixed-hour prayer were, and have remained, the chain of golden connection tying Christian to Christ and Christian to Christian across history, across geography, and across idiosyncrasies of faith.—Phyllis Tickle.

Additional resources

Ticke, Phyllis. The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime: A Manual for Prayer.

Ticke, Phyllis. The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime: A Manual for Prayer.

Ticke, Phyllis. The Divine Hours: Prayers for Autumn and Winter: A Manual for Prayer.

Ticke, Phyllis. The Divine Hours: Pocket Edition: A Manual for Prayer.

 


[1] Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines, 224.

[2] Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines, 224.

[3] Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines, 225.

[4] Explore faith. The Divine Hours: A complete guide to the ancient practice of fixed-hour prayer. Last modified 2011. Accessed March 28, 2015. http://www.explorefaith.org/prayer/prayer/fixed/index.php

[5] Tickle, Phyllis. The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime: A Manual fro Prayer. (New York: Doubleday, 2001).

[6] https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/pray-as-you-go/id129950199?mt=2

 
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