Posted by: Dan | March 4, 2006

The Little Liturgy

This post is simply the order of prayer that I tend to follow daily. For those who might be interested, here is my daily prayer. However, don't feel that it just a prayer to be prayed alone; this liturgy would work well for groups — just substitute “we” for “I” everywhere and be creative in praying things together, or taking turns or whatever.

This liturgy highlights certain passages and prayers from Scripture, but feel free to work other prayers in. Be creative. I regularly insert Ro 15.13, and bits of Eph 1 into this.

What is especially exciting to me in all this is that this liturgy just developed naturally from spending time daily in prayer, I didn't spend any time studying this topic. That also means that this is a work in progress and I'm excited to see how this it will continue to develop.

The Little Liturgy

1. Recite the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed:

“I believe in One God,
the Father Almighty,
Maker of Heaven and Earth,
and of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Son of God,
the Only-Begotten, begotten of the Father before all ages;
Light of Light;
True God of True God;
begotten, not made;
of one essence with the Father,
by Whom all things were made;
Who for us men and for our salvation
came down from Heaven,
and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
And He was crucified for us under Pontius Pilate,
and suffered, and was buried.
And the third day He arose again,
according to the Scriptures,
and ascended into Heaven,
and sits at the right hand of the Father;
and He shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead;
Whose Kingdom shall have no end.

And in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life,
Who proceeds from the Father;
Who with the Father and the Son together is worshiped and glorified;
Who spoke by the prophets.

And in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

I acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins.
I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.”

[I choose to begin with this creed because it is the creed that is affirmed by all Christians, everywhere. It is good to begin prayer by grounding ourselves in the traditions of the Church and there is something wonderful about declaring what Christians have declared together for almost two thousand years. This “groundedness” is something that continues throughout the liturgy.]

2. Pray the Glory Be:

“Glory be to the Father.
Glory be to the Son.
Glory be to the Holy Spirit.”

[Thus we begin praying by engaging in worship. By beginning with the Glory Be we also ground ourselves in a trinitarian approach to God — remembering that the God of Christianity is like no other god in history. This truine God, and no other, is the God to whom we pray.]

3. Pray the Jesus Prayer:

“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

[I choose to start with this prayer because it means coming to prayer with an attitude of humility. However, I also start here because I don't want to end with this prayer. As we journey through our daily life we tend to forget how God defines us (i.e. as Spirit-filled members of Christ's body, and as beloved children) and so we often come to prayer feeling like “sinners”… but we don't stop there. Prayer reminds us of who we are so that, by the time we end our prayers we are no longer defining ourselves as “sinners” but are remembering that we are new creations in Christ.]

4. Pray the Lord's Prayer:

“Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from the evil one. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

[We are still at the beginning of our prayer time and it is right to begin by praying the way that Jesus taught us to pray. I tend to pray this prayer slowly, meditating on the various words and thoughts within it as I go. So, for example, take the first two words of the prayer, “Our Father”. When I pray this I remember that I come to God as a part of a body, not just as an individual. God is not just my Father, he is our Father. Thus, I am reminded that I am a part of a community that belongs to Christ, I am reminded that all of creation is under the care of one Father, and I come to that Father as a member of, and a representative of that creation. So use your imagination and keep working your way through the prayer. As you do this day by day it is quite wonderful where the Spirit can lead you.]

4. Pray through the Beatitudes, applying each of them to yourself:

“Lord make me poor in Spirit that I may have the Kingdom of Heaven.
Lord make me mourn so that I may be comforted.
Lord make me meek so that I may inherit the earth.
Lord make me hunger and thirst after righteousness so that I may be satisfied.
Lord make me merciful so that I may be shown mercy.
Lord make me pure in heart so that I may see you.
Lord make me a peacemaker so that I may be called a child of God.
Lord make me persecuted for the sake of righteousness so that I may be like the prophets before me and inherit the Kingdom of Heaven.”

[From the Lord's prayer, I like to move to the Beatitudes because praying through these reminds me of my Christian identity. They remind me of who I am in Christ, and how I should act. They also remind me of the promises of God that inspire hope and courage within us. Again it is good to go slowly through them, meditating upon what it means to be poor in Spirit, why we should mourn, and so on and so forth. Initially it may feel presumptuous to claim the promises of the Beatitudes in this manner, but push through that. This is no “name it and claim it” theology. After all, you are praying for suffering, grief, hunger, etc., to define who you are, and the promises must be read in light of those things.]

6. Pray through the fruit of the Spirit:

“Lord, fill me with the fruit of love.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of joy.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of peace.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of patience.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of goodness.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of kindness.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of faithfulness.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of gentleness.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of self-control.
Lord, fill me with the fruit of hope.

[You will notice that this is primarily drawn from the passage in Galatians where the fruit of the Spirit is listed. However, that place is not the only place where Paul lists fruit that should define those who are Spirit-filled. For example, in 1 Cor 13, he talks about the supremacy of faith, hope, and love. Thus, I have added hope to the list of the fruit. I think hope is one of the most essential attributes of Christians. It's hard to miss that when you journey with those on the margins of society. Hope grounds us in God's eschatological time-frame, it places us within God's story allowing us to remember where we have come from and live in anticipation of where we are going. Anyway, feel free to add other attributes to this list that you find in the New Testament, or, think about how those other traits may already be incorporated into the fruit listed here. Indeed, as you pray through the fruit of the Spirit, meditate upon each one and think about how they may be different from each other. What is the difference between goodness and kindness? Between kindness and love? And so on.]

7. Intercessory Prayer:

Intercession for family/housemates/partner.
Intercession for my school.
Intercession for my work, and for the non-profit I'm working on.
Intercession for the Church.
Intercession for the nation-state.
Intercession for the suffering/oppressed/abandoned.
Intercession for our enemies/the enemies of the oppressed.

After each section pray, “Lord, in your mercy, hear these prayers.”

[This is just how this list looks for me. It will be a little different for each person. However, each session of intercession should include (a) your loved ones; (b) people in each of the environments in which you move (i.e. school, work, other projects); (c) the Church; (d) the state; (e) the suffering; (f) enemies. One brief comment on praying for “enemies”. When we pray for our “enemies” and the “enemies of the oppressed” we remember the humanity of those we dislike. It is through prayer that enemies are made into friends. This is so because we cannot spend a sustained amount of time praying for people without also learning to love those people. Also note that there will be some overlap between these categories (for example, given the right set of circumstances “drug dealers” could fit into each category). Noting how the categories relate to one another can be fruitful in prayer]

8. Recite Romans 8.37-39:

“But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

[This section concludes the main body of this liturgy, which has focused a lot on Christian identity. We have thus moved from knowing ourselves as sinners in section 2, to knowing ourselves as God's beloved. Here we are grounding ourselves in the certainty that nothing will be able to separate us from that love relationship. It is important to pray this after intercession (just as it is important to pray the Beatitudes before intercession) because it reminds us that — even though we pray and are a part of God's chosen people — suffering, weakness, and loss will be a part of our experiences. This prayer reminds us that those sufferings, in the long run, are inconsequential. Nothing is truly lost, for nothing can divide us from God's love.]

9. Sing the doxology:

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise him all creatures here below. Praise him above ye heavenly hosts. Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.”

[We are now moving into the concluding section of our prayer, and this song should be coming pretty naturally at this point. Prayer should cause us to burst forth into praise and I find that, by this time, I'm usually pretty eager to worship and adore God (of course, that eagerness may not come right away, but it's pretty amazing how, through praying this liturgy regularly, that eagerness does become part of the daily experience). We are also further grounding ourselves in the body of Christ by singing this doxology.]

10. Pray for the consummation of the kingdom:

“Father, come and make all things new.
Jesus, come and consummate your kingdom.
Spirit, come and be poured out on all flesh.
The Spirit and the Bride say, 'Come!'
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.”

[Once again we are placing ourselves within God's history, remembering that we are still only living in the now-and-not-yet of the kingdom of God. This prayer comes from Revelation and we are reminded of our longing for the day when God will heal all wounds, dry all tears, and put an end to all violence, and brokenness. What we are expressing here is our longing for Jesus' speedy return. This longing is evident all over the New Testament, and it should also define us as the people of God in the 21st-century. That may seem like an odd notion to many of us (or at least it seemed odd to me when I first started thinking about it) but that only reveals how removed we are from the suffering and from those who are truly desperate for new life.]

11. Pray Revelation 22.21:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all.
Amen.”

[Thus, we conclude with the final words of the Biblical canon. We end where the authors of Scripture ended, longing for God's grace to be poured out on all.]

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