Praying the daily office

February 27, 2009

emerging church / spirituality

There is a practice of prayer called the Daily Office that dates back to ancient Judaism, when faithful Jews would gather several times each day and pray. Islam has a similar practice, of course, and several branches of Christianity, mostly high liturgical churches, also practice it.

In recent years, there has been an introduction of this practice into evangelicalism, and more so into the emerging church. Many in the emerging church are influenced by Celtic spirituality, ecclesiology, and ways of relaying the life of God into the world. This is especially the case within new monasticism, and those influenced by new monasticism.

I’ve written occasionally about my own growing interest in new monasticism, and in light of that I have recently felt drawn into incorporating the office into my prayer life.

This is somewhat unexpected for someone like me, as in general the Pentecostal/charismatic tradition has looked on these things with, at best, skepticism. That said, I continue to believe that one of the strengths of the emerging church is that it is able to be influenced by a variety of movements, and able to express itself in a variety of ways.

The particular office I’ve started to use comes recommended by my friend Brad Culver, and is the one used by the Northumbria Community, a Celtic new monastic community. It looks to be a fascinating community, and has influenced many others, from Brad to the 24-7 Prayer movement. There is great power in these prayers, and it is easy to see how they can help to form one’s day, and life, in the way of Jesus.

This does not negate, nor would they say that it negates, other forms of prayer and spirituality. I find that communion with God goes through seasons. I have had times in my life where it was very easy to pray, and very easy to pray for specific things for extended periods of time.

At other times, though, my mind is overwhelmed to the point that I don’t know how to say anything. At these times, I am thankful for the Pentecostal experience, but combining it with something like the Celtic office of Northumbia is very meaningful.