Thursday, December 9, 2010

Common Prayer - Even If You're NOT an Ordinary Radical

I wanted to give a quick shout out in recommendation of my former neighbor Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's latest effort (in collaboration with Shane Claiborne and Enuma Okoro), Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. I ordered a copy as a St. Nicholas Day present for our family, as we are always looking for simple yet serious resources for daily devotions, and we've found this prayer book to exceed both criteria. Drawing on a wide variety of Christian traditions, from the monastic hours to African American spirituals and holding up exemplary yet unheralded saints of the church whose lives witness to God's pursuit of justice and holiness throughout the centuries, these New Monastic co-conspirators have managed to weave such diverse threads into an incredibly accessible daily prayer liturgy of morning, mid-day, and evening prayer (practices emerging out of the rhythm of their radical communal life). If you are new to more structured prayer, or are looking for a simple version of traditional prayer forms that fill up the lacunae of Western Anglo liturgies, Common Prayer may be just the thing to unveil new dimensions in your daily devotional life and spiritual growth. Certainly, to pray with great witnesses like Jonathan and Shane, and with the cloud of witnesses of all ages, is not only pragmatic - its also a delight, even if you yourself, like me, are still negotiating what it means to live radically the universal call to discipleship.

This wonderful gift to the church is also a free gift: you can access the daily prayers at Common Prayer's online web-resource! Much like the equally helpful Jesuit resource, Sacred Space, this makes incorporating prayer into your day more convenient (add it to your morning blog-roll or surfing-schedule, or, please, go there before reading this blog! I've placed a link at the top of my "Places of Provision" to make it easy for all of us!). However, in the spirit of supporting the hard work of the compilers, I would also heartily recommend purchasing your own copy, as the embodied edition also contains a helpful introduction that unfolds the understanding of time and worship underlying daily prayer and the Christian year, and also offers frequent sidebars unpacking the significance of various prayer practices, often linking the contemplative with its grounding in action and witness. It also includes a songbook and occasional prayers (though these are also graciously available on the web).

Join with this blogger's family, communities of the New Monasticism, and the cloud of witnesses in all ages, in gathering in whatever form your tradition or liturgy takes, to ground our lives in the kind of attention of God which is itself a delight, and so to grow the ministries and actions of our lives from the Spirit's rich soil of contemplation of the Beauty of the Lord, in all its surprising diversity.

1 comment:

  1. This IS an awesome resource! And it's surprising how many people, who one would not immediately expect to find it useful, have done precisely that. I've helped get over thirty copies into the (excited!) hands of everyone from my two aging, rural NC congregations to nurses and other medical staff at the hospital!