Review: In Constant Prayer, 2

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I’m continuing some thoughts from In Constant Prayer today.

Praying the Daily Office is much more than mere ritual, an impression in my mind that has been corrected by Robert Benson. I’ve always regarded the repetition of words as a less than desirable effort to pray. (Of course I think if I could see a thesaurus of my prayer language it would likely be a rather small list of words repeated often!).  What moves this from simple ritual? Praise.

Yes, praise is that part of prayer that doesn’t seem to flow as naturally as our list of needs and wants. It’s the part of prayer that doesn’t request healing of the sick. It’s the part of prayer that isn’t about us. Benson is right when he says:

Sometimes it seems we have convinced ourselves that even though we are expecting God to work in mysterious ways on our behalf, our call to offer praise and worship to the One who made us is the sort of thing that can be taken care of once a week in an hour or so between the Sunday school and the Sunday buffet. (p. 54)

In praying the Daily Office we are moved beyond our lists and into the language of praise, written long ago. That, to me, is of great value.

Benson addresses several excuses that are offered up as to why people do not practice the Daily Office. Like a surgeon he cuts away each one … gently but with conviction. Are we too busy? He says that we may spend more time putting off our prayers than it takes to say them. Are they too complicated? Benson reminds us that we are adept at mastering difficult and complex things and this is not an issue. He answers the questions about time, place, how to face discouragement or doubt. Accountability is important as well, so Benson encourages joining with others to say the Daily Office.

By no means have I mentioned everything in the book, but I hope I mentioned several things that interest you enough to purchase and read In Constant Prayer.

Two things I really liked about this book:

* This book is within reach. It is not a heavy theological book so thick with unfamiliar terms as to be boring. This book is written for the everyday Christian who wants to grow closer to God why practicing the ancient prayers.

* This book is personable. There are many stories and revelations about the author’s life that leave one feeling as if they know him. And one can certainly identify with him.

And since Robert Benson left a comment on my previous post, he has become one of my favorite authors. 🙂

I’d like to read other books in this series, but I’m not quite ready to move on from this one yet. I’ve got some absorbing to do. As I wrote yesterday: I would be interested in hearing from those of you who pray the daily office.

What prayer book do you use?

What rhythm do you practice?

What characterizes your prayer space?

And if you are totally opposed to the daily office, let us know why.

Thanks for reading!

John

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