Prayer is the human response to God’s initiative. God initiates the relationship by invitation. Without engagement in God’s invitation, we cannot come to know God. We respond to God’s invitation into relationship through regular prayer, making ourselves available to God.
This is just as our Hebrew ancestors did. The Psalmist (perhaps Ezra the priest in this case) writes: “Seven times a day do I praise you.” (Ps. 119:164a, NRSV) Christianity’s desert mothers and fathers, laity who chose to do so and those who lived more formal vocations to the service of God (from the monastics to the clergy) set aside regular, daily hours of prayer. The Catholic Liturgy of the Hours marks the passing of the day from the middle of the night to other designated times throughout the day in prayer. Two hours in particular, Morning and Evening Prayer, formed the basis for regular public worship in the time of Constantine and the legalization of the faith in Rome.
As Anglicanism emerged from Roman Catholicism, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer compiled the first two editions of The Book of Common Prayer. At the core of the English reformed tradition is the recovery of the devotional life of all of God’s people in the language that they understand. Prayer, as the title suggests, is what the people hold in common in their worship and in their life with one another. The Book of Common Prayer (1979) of the Episcopal Church continues this hallmark of Anglicanism with Daily Offices of Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer and Compline (Night Prayers).
The Anglican tradition, at its heart, is concerned with the relationship of all of its people with God and with one another. It is not too late to do your part to answer God’s initiation of relationship in your life. In so doing, you and your relationships will be transformed in ways that exceed what you might ask or imagine of God. As time passes around the globe, time zone by time zone, the world becomes shrouded in prayer with the work of daily prayer, past and present. Will your prayer be among them?
© 2016 by Douglas A. Beck