- Paperback: 176 pages
- Publisher: Paraclete Press (May 1, 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781557254818
- ISBN-13: 978-1557254818
- ASIN: 1557254818
- Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.6 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #304,191 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today Paperback – May 1, 2006
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The so-called "high church" branches of Christianity have practiced liturgical prayer, or prayer with set words and at set hours, for centuries. In this folksy, practical and welcoming guidebook for Protestants unacquainted with, or perhaps even suspicious of, what he calls the "prayer book tradition" of the Church, McKnight attempts to root liturgical prayer in three things: biblical practice, a theology based on "loving God and loving others" and an ecumenical sensitivity to the riches of various Christian traditions. A professor of religious studies at North Park University and a popular writer on Christian spirituality, McKnightexplores the Jewish practice of prayer, how Jesus practiced prayer and how various denominations use the Psalms and the Bible as foundations for liturgy. He also draws from his own experiences to illustrate how Christians can use prayer books grounded in the Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Anglican traditions. "Praying with the Church," he writes, "involves allowing our own prayer lives to be adjusted to the sacred rhythms of the Church's prayer tradition." Laced with quotations from many "real-life" users, this helpful volume concludes with a chapter on how prayer book liturgies can be adapted for individual use. (May)
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If the old practice of praying the hours is something you have considered but wanted more instruction in, this volume would be a helpful place to begin. Beginning with a treatise on Jesus, practice of prayer and then moving into a historical discussion on how the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican traditions practiced prayer, McKnight offers ways praying the hours (or the offices) connects with each.
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What he discovered was that there is a rhythm to be developed in the Christian life by praying at set times, using the Psalms, set prayers of the church, the Apostles Creed, The Lord's Prayer, etc. He does a great job of bringing scripture to bear on the subject.
I especially appreciate his dual distinction of praying "in" the church or praying "with" the church. What does he mean by these two phrases? Praying "In" the church is the concept of our individualistic prayer time with the Lord, i.e. when we come to the Lord alone to bring our petitions and to sit and listen to what God has to say. This is the type of prayer that most books discuss and it is what most people think when they talk about prayer.
The second phrase is praying "With" the Church. What McKnight means here is praying the set "hours" of prayer and praying set prayers such as Psalms, or prayers from the common book of prayer or prayers from other Prayer guides such The Divine Hours by Phyllis Thickle. The Jewish church had a rhythm to their prayer life. They prayed at sundown, sunup and noontime. These three set times were meant to bring them to the throne of God and praying as a church, bringing honor and glory to the Lord. Praying "With" the church means that you stop several times a day and join with thousands of other Christians praying to God and acknowledging His guidance in your life.
In praying "with" the church you are developing a rhythm of prayer and communion in your life that will bring about growth and sensitivity to the leading of the Lord. Brother Lawrence wrote a small book called, "Practicing the Presence of God", i.e. being in a state of continual prayer.
McKnight will address and answer your questions on how we can "constantly" be in a state of prayer. He does a wonderful job.
By the end of this read you will be convicted, as McKnight was, that praying the "hours" is not a repetitive, laborious task, but it becomes a joyous and beneficial habit that will bring you great blessing.
I believe you will really enjoy this book, especially if you are looking for ways to grow into a deeper walk with your Lord and Savior.
To remedy that problem, he suggests that we use the prayer books of the church. he goes through various traditions, many of which contain ancient prayers. These prayers draw from rich tradition which allows all Christians to pray together, in a sense, as we bring these prayers to God. Many of them are tied closely to the psalms which Jesus and the earliest church would have used as their prayer book. To be clear, he also advises the personal, private, extemporaneous prayer as well.
I have used a couple of the resources he suggests. The Book of Common Prayer is rich, but it is also difficult to use. Phyllis Tickle's series of books called Divine Hours is much more accessible and draws from a wide range of Christian traditions. It also follows the church calendar, which is a great way to develop a sense of the rhythm of Jesus' life and what much of the church is doing.
Many books have been written advising people how to pray, and many of them are valuable, but this is a different turn that might help Christians develop a broader sense of prayer. For those who have not used prayer books, this is an excellent resource.
Section two is supposed to help walk you through some of the prayer books of various branches of the Church, however, this is were the book begins to sputter. He goes into a little background on various books but doesn't do what people who are intimidated by prayer books need: someone to explain how the books work. Instead, he tells how learning them is worth the effort but no actual help on how to use them.