Thank you to Jordan Riggle for his guest submission to our series on the BCP in Daily Life. Jordan and his wife Katrina live in Dayton, Ohio with three children. He’s a writer and entrepreneur, and she’s a baker and a painter. They’ve fallen deeply in love with simple, liturgical, gospel-centered living.
In the interest of full disclosure, my wife and I aren’t Anglicans, we don’t attend an Anglican church, nor does our church use the Book of Common Prayer. None of our friends use it. In fact, the only other family we personally know who uses the Book of Common Prayer on a regular basis would be Amanda’s, one of the editors here at The Homely Hours.
However, my wife and I use the Book of Common Prayer with our children twice a day, every day. A year and a half ago we began following the liturgical calendar and began hearing about this thing called the Book of Common Prayer. Since then, the Book of Common Prayer has slowly worked itself into the very warp and woof of our lives. We’ve memorized the majestic, scriptural phrases together, recited them out loud after meals, and sleepily whispered “Lighten our darkness” to a scared child at 2 a.m.
As a husband and a father, I began to take very seriously the command to be the spiritual leader of my home. I wanted to faithfully and intentionally lead my family in the things of God. I wanted to be a Deuteronomy 6 husband and father, teaching the things of God diligently to my children, talking of them when we sit in our house, and when we walk by the way, and when we lie down, and when we rise.
My wife and I use the Book of Common Prayer as a springboard of sorts. By now the kids have memorized many of the prayers. Big words and phrases will finally hit home with a puzzled frown and a question, “Daddy, how does God’s face shine upon us? Is God like a flashlight?” The Book of Common Prayer becomes a launching pad for us to repetitively keep the deep truths of Scripture before us. It’s a helpful channel to guide our prayers and make sure they don’t devolve into banality and triviality. When praying outside our home with friends, we’ve now found many of the phrases and sentiments of the Book of Common Prayer emerge now without conscious thought.
After breakfast and after dinner, we read a small portion of Scripture and talk about it a little. With three little kids, it’s less a discussion and more a competition of who can yell out the answer to mom and dad’s question first: how many lepers Jesus healed or the name of the city the disciples wanted to burn? Ready, set, go!
Then we all recite the Lord’s Prayer out loud, with plenty of “Sissy’s touching my elbows” and waving of silverware. Then we ask them what they want to thank God for and what they want to request. We recite either the Morning or Evening prayers, with any special prayers added on. A favorite in our house is the prayer for all poor, homeless, and neglected folk, as we have many homeless who beg outside the entrance to our apartment complex.
We started out using an app for the Book of Common Prayer on my smartphone, since my phone goes wherever I go. But we have long since memorized our most used and favorite prayers. We rarely use the app anymore.
Because that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Over time, allowing the language of Scripture to mold and transform our minds, hearts, and responses? Allowing scripture-saturated, time-tested, beautiful literature to have a prominent place in our homes? Even though it can often be mundane and frustrating, hearing my four-year-old son whispering “Our Father, Who art in heaven” to himself in the backseat of our car makes it all worth it.
It’s worth it because when I stand before God, I can know I’ve discharged my duty. Not perfectly by any means, but faithfully and well, by his grace and for his glory.
I can only have the highest admiration for the path you are treading to honor God in your own life and that it has encouraged your children to adopt. So many Baptists are fearful as popish formal liturgy in worship that following the lectionary is distrusted. Such churches should be made aware more of the bible is heard in these churches than in those protected from Roman Catholic or Episcopal church practices.