It will be some weeks yet until we will be able to meet again in the Church. Maybe it is at a time like this when we think again about our prayer life at home. I think there are many different habits of that, and we will probably adjust as our situations change. Having children certainly also influenced my daily routine in this regard. Indeed, these days the bed-time prayer time with my children is probably one of the most treasured moments for me.
The New Zealand Prayer Book contains Morning and Evening Worship (pages 54 – 103) and Daily Devotions (pages 104 –146). They may be used together with the lectionary or another plan for readings. These devotions come from the monastic tradition, where the community would pray at set times.
With the Reformation regular prayer at home became also a more common practice among the people that were not called to a “religious” life. Christians realised again that everyday life could be sanctified and lived in the presence of God at each moment. This was no longer just the preserve of monks, nuns, and hermits, but rather the joy and duty of all Christians.
Martin Luther placed great emphasis on the family devotion, when parents, children and guests would read from the Bible and pray together after dinner. Music sometimes also was part of such family prayers.
This form of family prayer was also important among the Pietist movement that spread throughout central Europe from the late 17th century onwards.
In the Anglican Church initially the morning and evening prayer were closer approximations to the monastic rhythm. John Wesley taught not only the Methodists, but the church as a whole, how important regular times of personal prayer and devotion are. From there we have our “quiet times” with which many start or end the day. We read the Bible, reflect and pray and often have some journal in which we write our thoughts and prayers, based on the Bible reading. Bible study guides, such as “The Word for Today” can help us with that (available as a booklet, and online in written and audio formats).
Alongside those regular habits we also need those other special times to reflect, for example, when we go to the beach or the mountains or are involved in some other activity that lets us ponder and reflect. That is a bit difficult at the moment, but I hope we can continue our prayers at home, whatever shape they take. There are many aids out there and I hope you have found some form that connects you to God.
PS: For those concerned with access to the Church and how we go about Parish administration, there is a detailed “Back to Work Plan”. Please contact Ruth in the (home) office to get a copy of that. If you have any concerns based on that, please contact me. I’m trying my best to keep it practical while also incorporating the continually-changing advice from the government and Diocese.
Blessings – Tim