Liturgy is not something I was exposed to growing up in church; at least not what we consider as traditional liturgy. The truth is I used to be a little suspect of anything that was too scripted or routine. I am fiercely independent and must confess to not having completely outgrown the ‘Me do it by myself’ phase! So it was with surprise that I found my first real exposure to liturgical prayers to be such a delight. [Special thanks to Gail Johnsen and Bobbi Reynolds for a 9-month Spiritual Formation Journey experience that has changed more than just my prayer life! www.keepingcompanywithjesus.com ]
There is a freedom in praying someone else’s words. When we pray a written prayer or a scripture we allow it to speak for us and to us. No longer do I have to come up with the most accurate or eloquent way to bring my heart to God.
“Liturgical patterns call us to let go of our compulsion to lead or plunge ahead in any way we want. Their rhythms draw us into established patterns of attending to God. They allow the prayers of others to become your own when your heart feels empty, allowing the repetitive nature of the liturgy to shape your life.” Adele Ahlberg Calhoun, Spiritual Disciplines Handbook, p. 239-240.
I would like to share three of my favorite Liturgical prayers with you.
Christ be with me,
Christ within me,
Christ behind me,
Christ before me,
Christ beside me,
Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ in quiet,
Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
~ St. Patrick, early 5th century
St. Patrick’s prayer is a tangible way to remind myself that I am always in His presence. It instantly gives me peace.
“Liturgy literally means ‘the work of the people,’ and the people of God have been sustained through the centuries by rhythms and practices that help us remember our story, remember our saints and sing the eternal song that echoes around God’s throne.” ~ Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicalswww.commonprayer.net
Each day’s reading in Common Prayer ends with this prayer:
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
This prayer has become my mantra. It reminds me that God will send me out. That I will feel lost and tossed by the waves. But He will guide me, lead me home, and if I’m paying attention I will see His wonders. And; like the popular chorus says, hopefully “I’ll still be singing when the evening comes!”
The last prayer I want to share with you is from a Modern Saint. She is a member of our women’s leadership team and this is what she prayed:
“Lord, let our time together and our planning be fruitful!” ~ Charity Rattray
Charity prayed this prayer in a parking lot with arms spread wide to the sky. She lifted her sweet face and prayed over our day. I instantly thought “Why don’t I pray more often to be fruitful?” So now I do just that. And, I use all of her liturgy: chin lifted, arms wide, I ask God to make (fill in the blank) fruitful!
How might we put down our independence and join in liturgy today?
What Saint of the past or present has prayed the words your heart longs to speak out?