The Corporate Element in Private Prayer

A Christian is never alone.

EPISTOLÊ

There really is no such thing as private prayer, if by “private” we mean “cut off from” the corporate body of God’s people in the local church. And yet, our natural inclination as moderns seems to assume that very thing, namely, that my private prayers are just between me and God, perhaps reflecting what Charles Taylor refers to as the ‘punctual self’, whose radical independence makes for a self that is merely a ‘point’ in blank space, an abstraction from community, place, and the other.

The daily offices (morning/evening prayer) of the Prayer Book, even when used as private prayer, are not strictly separable from the corporate gathering of the local parish church. Since the prayers are spiritual offerings to God, even in private these offerings are not merely for the individual or for the individual’s family, friends, and neighbors, but for those with whom one communes at the…

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