As I stated previously, it’s sometimes easy to ask yourself if you pray often enough and pray the right way.
The most simplest definition of prayer I can give you is this, Prayer is communication. There are those that equate prayer to communication to God alone. Prayer can be and often is communication to God, but it’s not limited to God alone. Remember that old English expression, “pray tell”? Webster’s dictionary also defines it as “an earnest request or wish”.
I’m not going to get into the Catholic custom of praying to saints etc. today. That’s not what this is about. For this article’s sake, we’ll understand prayer as communication to God. Two-way communication. Talking to someone isn’t a conversation if we don’t stop to listen to what they have to say. If we aren’t stopping to listen, it’s not a conversation but a monologue. Simply talking to God as if He’s sitting next to you is prayer. I find myself simply talking to God as I am mowing the lawn or driving down the road. It can be done anytime, anywhere.
There was a Jewish tradition at the time of Jesus where Jews would stop their day at certain hours of the day and pray the Psalms. We references of this in the Bible, particularly in the book of Acts when some of the Apostles would go up to the Temple to pray at certain hours of the day. This has continued on throughout the centuries to this day. We now call this, The Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours is a Catholic practice of praying liturgical prayers at certain times of the day. Catholic clergy upon their ordination make a promise to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
While the laity is not required or obligated to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, we are not prohibited to either. In fact there is a growing amount of laity praying the Liturgy of the Hours more now than ever. Each liturgy or “office” is to be prayed at various times of the day. There is Morning Prayer, Daytime Prayer, Evening Prayer, Night Prayer, and the Office of Readings (which can be prayed at anytime of the day).
I try and pray all of the Liturgy of the Hours each day. I begin my day with it, and end my day with it. What can be better than beginning and ending your day with Scripture? I’ll write another article on the makeup of each of the Offices of the Liturgy of the Hours sometime in the future, but for now, just keep in mind that they are made up almost exclusively of Psalms with other biblical readings and canticles placed in their.
Don’t worry if you don’t think your not reading your Bible enough or praying enough. To read your Bible prayerfully is doing both. The Liturgy of the Hours is a great way to do that.
Next time I will talk about another prayerful way to read the Bible, Lectio Divina.