Thank you to Andrew Brashier for submitting this post to our series on family prayer. Andrew volunteers as Chancellor for the ACNA Special Jurisdiction of Armed Forces and Chaplaincy and is an attorney at the Beasley Allen law firm in Montgomery, AL. He blogs about family oratories and the impact they can have in reigniting Anglicanism at https://thruamirrordarkly.wordpress.com/“
Prayer is sadly neglected all too often in the life of the average Christian, I myself being no exception. Therefore, I rejoice at the great resource that is the Book of Common Prayer. Its prayers are directed to the Triune God, in gentle rebuke to my inwardly focused prayers. As a tool, the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) can develop the uncommon habit of prayer. The regular use of the daily offices of morning and evening prayer will quickly lead one to learn a multitude of Psalms, hymns, Scripture, and collects that truly “collect” one’s mind towards God and neighbor. Even irregular use of the offices in the BCP will quickly assist in learning the Creed and the Lord’s Prayer.
Developing the uncommon habit of common prayer is not limited to the individual. Those called to raise families have a great responsibility as the basic unit of the church. As a Christian who is learning daily what it means to be a father, I have appreciated the guidance of the BCP in discipling and being discipled through daily prayers. Prayer is an uncommon habit and family prayer even more so. It is an awkward (and even uncomfortable) discipline to develop within a family, but we are called to raise our families in the faith and have made a promise before the church by and through the baptism service:
” Minister. Having now, in the name of this Child, made these promises, will ye also on your part take heed that he learn the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Ten Commandments, and all other things which a Christian ought to know and believe, to his soul’s health?
Answer. I will, by God’s help.
Minister. Will ye take heed that this Child, so soon as sufficiently instructed, be brought to the Bishop to be confirmed by him?
Answer. I will, God being my helper “(1928 BCP Baptism service).
Therefore, it is imperative that we establish family prayer in our homes. The emphasis should not merely be to get through an office, but to bring the family together in prayer. Family prayer is uniquely flexible with the BCP, so one can use as few or as many prayers as is best for each family.
I recommend always saying the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and singing the Doxology as three standards in every family’s routine. Simply reciting these three for children at a young age will assist children to memorize the basics of the faith—foundations that will always remain with them. Additionally, these assist children in preparation for confirmation. Currently, my dear three-year-old daughter sings every other word of the Doxology and tries reciting the Lord’s Prayer. As she gets older, my wife and I will teach her about the meaning of the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Doxology. Slowly, we will add additional prayers, collects, portions of the catechism, and readings so that our use of the BCP will grow as our family grows.
The BCP is a tool Christian families can use to develop a rule of prayer. It is a priceless treasure that organizes Scripture into prayer and is rooted in the ancient way of the church. The practice of common prayer will develop an uncommon habit, and eventually the habit of prayer will form us and become a part of us.
Note: I recommend the American 1928 or Reformed Episcopal Church (REC) 2003 editions of the BCP as they both provide abbreviated versions of the daily offices in their Family Prayer sections. The REC even offers a Modern Language edition of their BCP (although I encourage everyone to use the traditional language).
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