Happy St. Patrick’s Day

A blessed and happy St. Patrick’s Day to all. Here is a selection from St. Patrick’s Breastplate:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

May our daily prayer and meditations be fixed upon Christ and His redemption and may our faith in Him be reflected in good works, almsgiving, and loving our neighbor. Lord have mercy on our failings and awaken us to how we miss the mark. Refocus us on resting in your grace in order to walk the path and do the hard work set before us.  Help us to see You in the people who are in need and strengthen us to always render assistance. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen.

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Family Prayer: An Uncommon Habit

Many thanks to my friends at The Homely Hours for publishing “Family Prayer: An Uncommon Habit.”

The Homely Hours

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/

Habits are common, but a good habit requires discipline. One does not fall into a good habit, but falling into a bad habit is as easy as rolling downhill.  Discipline is what makes good habits uncommon.  Perhaps the most uncommon habit, yet the most important, is prayer.

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…

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Starting a Family Oratory

I am convinced the hardest thing about any spiritual discipline is beginning. Whether it is prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, etc. it is taking the first step in developing the habit that remains the most difficult.

Lent is a time for taking on a new discipline and starting a family oratory is an activity in which the entire family participates.  But where to start, and how?  The 1928 Book of Common Prayer’s Family Prayer section provides “A Shorter Form” version of morning and evening prayer that consist of three short prayers. 

After regular use of the “Shorter Form,” the family can advance to the full Family Prayer version of morning and evening prayer (which are longer and found just prior to the “Shorter Form.”).  Finally, as the family’s children grow in age the full versions of morning and evening prayer can be used, along with incorporating the church catechism and 39 Articles of Religion.  Essentially, the beauty of the oratory is gradual catechesis of the family. 

Personally, my wife and I have a toddler so the Shorter Form is perfect for us.  However, we take the liberty of doing not only the Lord’s Prayer, but also singing the Doxology and reciting the Apostle’s Creed.  Within a matter of a couple of weeks our toddler has learned the Doxology and is slowing catching on to the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed.

A renewed Anglicanism will require a new generation who understand their faith and are disciplined in the habit of common prayer. The path to such a renewal begins within the home when fathers and mothers turn their house into an altar of prayer.

A Slightly Updated 1928 BCP Offices for Family Prayer

The Anglican Church of North America (“ACNA”) Liturgy Task Force has released a draft entitled Daily Devotions for Families for trial usage before the anticipated adoption of the ACNA 2019 Book of Common Prayer.  While the brief (six pages) selections of prayer is commendable, it is extremely brief when compared to the fourteen pages dedicated in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer’s “Forms of Prayer to be used in Families” .

The proposed ACNA offices include extremely shortened forms for morning, noon, evening, and compline prayers. The 1928 BCP however includes two shortened versions of morning and evening prayers that mimic the formal and longer offices. It also includes a variety of “Additional Prayers” that can be used as needed.

The following is a slight modification to these prayers that will be submitted to the ACNA Liturgy Task Force to ensure family devotions and oratories (like Prattville Anglican Fellowship) have the resources they need to grow. If you have any suggestions, edits, or additions please feel free to comment and of course let the Liturgy Task Force know here.

Updated 1928 BCP Office for Family Prayer

MORNING PRAYER.

The head of the household having called together the Family says the following with all kneeling, and repeating with him the Lord’s Prayer.

Let us pray:

OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Here may follow the Collect for the day.

¶ Here may follow the Daily Lectionary reading from the Old and New Testaments.

¶ Here may follow the Daily Lectionary reading of the Psalter, read responsively.

Acknowledgment of God’s Mercy and Preservation through the Night.

ALMIGHTY and everlasting God, in Whom we live, move, and have our being; We, your needy creatures, give your our humble praises, for your preservation of us from the beginning of our lives to this day, and especially for having delivered us from the dangers of the past night. For your mercies, we bless and magnify your glorious Name; humbly asking you to accept this our morning sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving; for the sake Him who lay down in the grave, and rose again for us, your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dedication of Soul and Body to God’s Service.

Since it is of your mercy gracious Father that another day is added to our lives; We here dedicate both our souls and our bodies to your service, in a sober, righteous, and godly life. We ask you merciful God to confirm and strengthen us; that, as we grow in age, we may grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

But God, who know the weakness and corruption of our nature, and the many temptations which we daily meet; We humbly ask You to have compassion on our infirmities, and to give us the constant assistance of your Holy Spirit; that we may be effectually restrained from sin, and incited to our duty. Imprint upon our hearts such a dread of your judgments, and such a grateful sense of your goodness to us, as may make us both afraid and ashamed to offend You. And, above all, keep in our minds a lively remembrance of that great day, in which we must give a strict account of our thoughts, words, and actions to Him whom you have appointed the Judge of quick and dead, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Here may follow a hymn, canticle, or the Apostle’s Creed

For Grace to guide and keep us the following Day,
and for God’s Blessing

We implore Your grace and protection for the ensuing day. Keep us temperate in all things, and diligent in our several callings. Grant us patience under our afflictions. Give us grace to be just and upright in all our dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all men, according to our abilities and opportunities. Direct us in all our ways. Defend us from all dangers and adversities; and be graciously pleased to take us, and all who are dear to us, under your fatherly care and protection. These things, and whatever else You shall see to be necessary and convenient for us, we humbly beg, through the merits and mediation of your Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

EVENING PRAYER.

The head of household with all the Family kneeling, and repeating with him the Lord’s Prayer.

Let us pray:

OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Here may follow the Collect for the day.

¶ Here may follow the Daily Lectionary reading from the Old and New Testaments.

¶ Here may follow the Daily Lectionary reading of the Psalter, read responsively.

Confession of Sins, with a Prayer for Contrition
and Pardon.

Let us silently confess our sins before Almighty God.

* Here let him who reads make a short pause, that every one may secretly confess the sins and failings of that day.

MOST merciful God, who are of purer eyes than to behold iniquity, and has promised forgiveness to all those who confess and forsake their sins; We come before You in an humble sense of our own unworthiness, acknowledging our manifold transgressions of your righteous laws.* But, O gracious Father, who desire not the death of a sinner, look upon us, we ask you in mercy, and forgive us all our transgressions. Make us deeply aware of the great evil of them; and work in us a broken and contrite heart; that we may obtain forgiveness at Your hands, who art ever ready to receive humble and penitent sinners; for the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, our only Savior and Redeemer. Amen.

 

Prayer for Grace to reform and grow Better.

AND prior to our own frailty, or the temptations which encompass us, we be drawn again into sin, protect us through the direction and assistance of your Holy Spirit. Reform whatever is amiss in the temper and disposition of our souls; that no unclean thoughts, unlawful designs, or wrongful desires, may rest there. Purge our hearts from envy, hatred, and malice; that we may never allow the sun to go down upon our wrath; but may always go to our rest in peace, charity, and good-will, with a conscience void of offence towards you, and towards men; that so we may be preserved pure and blameless, unto the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

The Intercession.

Accept O Lord, our intercessions for all mankind. Let the light of your Gospel shine upon all nations; and may as many as have received it, live as becomes it. Be gracious unto Your Church; and grant that every member of the same, in his vocation and ministry, may serve you faithfully. Bless all in authority over us; and so rule their hearts and strengthen their hands, that they may punish wickedness and maintain your true religion and virtue. Send down your blessings, temporal and spiritual, upon all our family, friends, and neighbors. Reward all who have done us good, and pardon all those who have done or wish us evil, and give them repentance and better minds. Be merciful to all who are in any trouble; and do administer to them according to their needs; for the sake of He who went about doing good, Your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

¶ Here may follow a hymn, canticle, or Apostle’s Creed

The Thanksgiving.

TO our prayers, O Lord, we join our sincere thanks for all your mercies; our life, our reason, and all other gifts of soul and body. We thank you Lord for our health, friends, food, clothing, and all the other comforts and conveniences of life. Above all, we adore Your mercy in sending Your only Son into the world, to redeem us from sin and eternal death, and in giving us the knowledge and sense of our duty towards You. We bless You for your patience with us, notwithstanding our many and great sins. We bless You for all the directions, assistance, and comforts of Your Holy Spirit; for Your continual care and watchful providence over us through the whole course of our lives; and particularly for the mercies and benefits of the past day. We humbly ask you to continue your blessings to us, and to give us grace to show our thankfulness in a sincere obedience to Your laws, through whose merits and intercession we received them all, Your Son our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer for God’s Protection through the Night following.

IN particular, we ask you to continue your gracious protection to us this night. Defend us from all dangers and from fear that we may enjoy refreshing sleep for the duties of the coming day. And grant us grace always to live in such a manner that we may never be afraid to die; so that, living and dying, we may be Yours through the merits and satisfaction of Your Son Christ Jesus, in whose Name we offer up these our imperfect prayers. Amen.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.

On Sundays, and on other days when it may be convenient, it will be proper to begin with a Chapter, or part of a Chapter, from the New Testament.

 

 

A SHORTER FORM OF THE DAILY OFFICES:

MORNING.

After the reading of a brief portion of Holy Scripture, let the Head of the Household, or some other member of the family, say as follows with all kneeling, and repeating with him the Lord’s Prayer.

OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

LORD, our heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, Who has safely brought us to the beginning of this day; please defend us with Your mighty power; and grant that this day we not fall into sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all our doings, being ordered by Your governance, may be righteous in your sight; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ Here may be added any special Prayers.

THE grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with us all evermore. Amen.


EVENING.

After the reading of a brief portion of Holy Scripture, let the Head of the Household, or some other member of the family, say as follows with all kneeling and repeating with him the Lord’s Prayer.

OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, But deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

Enlighten our darkness, we beg you O Lord; and by Your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Here may be added any special Prayers.

THE Lord bless us and keep us. The Lord make his face to shine upon us, and be gracious unto us. The Lord lift up his countenance upon us, and give us peace, this night and evermore. Amen.

 


ADDITIONAL PRAYERS

For the Spirit of Prayer.

ALMIGHTY God, who pours out on all who desires the spirit of grace and of supplication; Deliver us, when we draw away to your from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with a diligent mind and heart we may worship You in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

In the Morning.

GOD, the King eternal, who separated the day from the darkness, and turns the shadow of death into the morning; Drive far off from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep Your law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that having done Your will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when the night arrives, rejoice to give You thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

ALMIGHTY God, who alone provided us the breath of life, and alone can keep alive in us the holy desires you do impart; We ask You for your compassion’s sake, to sanctify all our thoughts and endeavors; that we may neither begin an action without a pure intention nor continue it without your blessing. And grant that, having the eyes of the mind opened to behold things invisible and unseen, we may in heart be inspired by your wisdom, and in work be upheld by Your strength, and in the end be accepted by You as Your faithful servants; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

At Night.

LORD, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, and the busy world is hushed, and the fever of life is over, and our work is done. Then in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, and a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

GOD, who are the life of mortal men, the light of the faithful, the strength of those who labor, and the repose of the dead; We thank you for the timely blessings of the day, and humbly supplicate your merciful protection all this night. Bring us, we ask you, in safety to the morning hours; through Him who died for us and rose again, Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Sunday Morning.

GOD, who makes us glad with the weekly remembrance of the glorious resurrection of Your Son our Lord; Provide us this day such a blessing through our worship of your, that the days to come may be spent in Your service; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Quiet Confidence.

GOD of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength; By the might of Your Spirit lift us, we pray to your presence, where we may be still and know that You are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Guidance.

GOD, by whom the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly; Grant us, in all our doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask what You would have us to do, that the Spirit of Wisdom may save us from all false choices, and that in Your light we may see light, and in Your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Trustfulness.

MOST loving Father, who wills us to give thanks for all things, to dread nothing but the loss of you, and to cast all our care on you and who cares for us; Preserve us from faithless fears and worldly anxieties, and grant that no clouds of this mortal life may hide from us the light of that love which is immortal, and which You have manifested to us in Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

HEAVENLY Father, You understand all Your children; through Your gift of faith we bring our confusion to the light of your wisdom, and receive the blessed encouragement of your sympathy, and a clearer knowledge of your will. Glory be to You for all Your gracious gifts. Amen.

For Joy in God’s Creation.

HEAVENLY Father, who has filled the world with beauty; Open, we as You, our eyes to behold your gracious hand in all your works; that rejoicing in your whole creation, we may learn to serve you with gladness; for the sake of Him by whom all things were made, Your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Children.

ALMIGHTY God, heavenly Father, who has blessed us with the joy and care of children; Give us light and strength so to train them, that they may love whatsoever things are true and pure and lovely and of good report, following the example of their Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For the Absent.

GOD, whose fatherly care reaches to the ends of the earth; We humbly ask you graciously to behold and bless those whom we love, now absent from us. Defend them from all dangers of soul and body; and grant that both they and we, drawing nearer to you, may be bound together by your love in the communion of your Holy Spirit, and in the fellowship of your saints; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For Those We Love.

ALMIGHTY God, we entrust all who are dear to us to your never-failing care and love, for this life and the life to come; knowing that you are doing for them better things than we can desire or pray for; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For the Recovery of a Sick Person.

MERCIFUL God, giver of life and health; Bless, we pray You that Your servant, [N.], and those who administer to him of your healing gifts; that he may be restored to health of body and of mind; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For One about to undergo an Operation.

ALMIGHTY God our heavenly Father, we ask You graciously to comfort Your servant in his suffering, and to bless the means made use of for his cure. Fill his heart with confidence, that though he be sometime afraid, he yet may put his trust in Your; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Birthday.

WATCH over Your child, O Lord, as his days increase; bless and guide him wherever he may be, keeping him unspotted from the world. Strengthen him when he stands; comfort him when discouraged or sorrowful; raise him up if he fall; and in his heart may your peace which passes understanding abide all the days of his life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

 

For an Anniversary of One Departed.

ALMIGHTY God, we remember this day your faithful servant [N.], and we pray that, having opened to him the gates of larger life, you will receive him more and more into your joyful service; that he may rest, with You and Your servants everywhere, in the eternal victory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

 

For Those in Mental Darkness.

HEAVENLY Father, we ask you to have mercy upon all your children who are living in mental darkness. Restore them to strength of mind and cheerfulness of spirit, and give them health and peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For a Blessing on the Families of the Land.

ALMIGHTY God, our heavenly Father, who places us in families; We place in your continual care the homes in which your people dwell. Put far from them every root of bitterness, the desire of vainglory, and the pride of life. Fill them with faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness. Knit together in constant affection those who, in holy wedlock, have been made one flesh; turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers; and so enkindle fervent love among us all, that we be endued with brotherly love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

For all Poor, Homeless, and Neglected Folk.

GOD, Almighty and merciful, who heals those that are broken in heart, and turns the sadness of the sorrowful to joy; Let Your fatherly goodness be upon all that You have made. Remember in pity those that are destitute, homeless, or forgotten of their fellow-men. Bless the congregation of your poor. Uplift those who are cast down. Mightily befriend innocent sufferers, and sanctify to them the endurance of their wrongs. Cheer with hope all discouraged and unhappy people, and by your heavenly grace preserve from falling those whose extreme poverty tempts them to sin; Although they be troubled on every side, let them not be distressed and though they be perplexed, save them from despair. Grant this, O Lord, for the love of Him, who for our sakes became poor, Your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

For Faithfulness in the Use of this World’s Goods.

ALMIGHTY God, whose loving hand has given us all that we possess; Grant us grace that we may honor you with our substance, and remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of Your bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A General Intercession.

GOD, at whose word man goes forth to his work and to his labor until the evening; Be merciful to all whose duties are difficult or burdensome, and comfort them concerning their toil. Shield from bodily accident and harm the workmen at their work. Protect the efforts of sober and honest industry, and allow not laborers to be defrauded. Incline the heart of employers and of those whom they employ to mutual forbearance, fairness, and goodwill. Give the spirit of governance and of a sound mind to all in places of authority. Bless all those who labor in works of mercy or in schools. Care for all elderly persons, all little children, the sick and the afflicted, and those who travel. Remember all who by reason of weakness are overtasked, or because of poverty are forgotten. Let the sorrowful sighing of the prisoners come before You; and according to the greatness of Your power, preserve those that are appointed to die. Give ear unto our prayer, O merciful and gracious Father, for the love of Your dear Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Grace before Meat.

BLESS, O Father, Your gifts to our use and us to your service; for Christ’s sake. Amen.

GIVE us grateful hearts, our Father, for all Your mercies, and make us mindful of the needs of others; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Every Home a Chapel – Common Prayer in Practice

It is important that families pray together as the basic society in which the Church is built upon. To that effect, the 1928 Book of Common Prayer at p. 587 provides a form for Morning and Evening Prayer that is shortened from the regular and more formal daily office. Additionally, an even shorter form of both Morning and Evening Prayer are provided for busy families starting on p. 592. Finally, a selection of Additional Prayers are included at p. 594 that can be used as appropriate during a family gathering for daily prayer or separately when applicable to a situation. Of course, their are also the additional Prayers and Thanksgivings located after the full office of Evening Prayer starting at p. 35.

These tools are useful in assisting families with praying together. The purpose is not to merely recite one or both offices daily for the sake of checking it off of a spiritual to-do list but to be used as a tool in discipling families. The regular use of prayer is a discipline that easily catechizes the family to quickly learn the Lord’s Prayer, especially for the youngest members of the family. Including the readings from the 1662 or original 1928 lectionary (not the 1943, which is printed in most 1928 BCPs) will ensure the Word of God is taught by hearing and will result in nearly the entire Bible being heard through the year.

As children come of age, one can easily incorporate elements of the Catechism that begins just prior to the Family Prayer section in preparation for their Confirmation into the church. Additionally, the Thirty-Nine Articles are conveniently located just after the Family Prayer section and can be referenced as needed on answering and teaching the broad reformed catholicism embodying the Anglican faith.

My last post mentioned the expansion of family oratories into something more – what was once referred to as a society of families gathered to recite a daily office and reading from the lectionary. Such a gathering for Evening Prayer can include the shorter versions in the Family Prayer section, especially considering the presence of small children who will likely have a difficult time remaining attentive for a full Evening Prayer service. However, for those families with older children, the full Evening Prayer service can be recited by the laity, minus the absolution after the confession of sins. For purposes of this post, I will assume a shorter service fits better with the average busy American life.

Prattville Anglican Fellowship suggests starting small with a shorter Evening Prayer service from the Family Prayer section and perhaps only meet once a month at first with another family (the meeting location can swap to make it easier on the families participating and to avoid a regular host family from being “burned out”). The evening could start with a small potluck dinner and after blessing the meal the relevant biblical texts from the lectionary could be read and reflected upon over dinner (Perhaps this meal is a modern adaptation of the agape feast). Afterwards, the Evening Prayer service begins and part of the Catechism and corresponding article from the Articles of Religion can be read and discussed.

Naturally, young children will want to be busybodies and play but the fact they hear the common prayer and texts being read week after week will soak into them. What is important is that they see their parents taking the obligation of prayer and Bible reading seriously. Over time, the children will learn the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed by “osmosis.” I say this from personal experience in merely being raised a regular Sunday churchgoer in the United Methodist Church, where I easily learned the Lord’s Prayer and Apostle’s Creed by heart at a very young age simply from attending the services regularly. I will forever be grateful that my local UMC parish had not (yet) abandoned the traditional language and outline of a Book of Common Prayer service.

Obviously, the Catechism and Office of Instruction are both very elementary and short documents within the prayer book and the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion can be quickly reviewed (although I could easily spend two years on the Thirty-Nine Articles if meeting only once a month – they are short but theologically a deep well). After exhausting these resources, a printed homily or sermon could replace the catechism and Thirty-Nine Articles to enrich and educate attendees on the meaning of the lectionary text (or other biblical text) from a church father or well-known expositor from the faith. I suggest taking a look at any of the following sites for source material: Sermons for Lay ReadersLectionary Central; and Read the Fathers. An idea I am currently considering is perhaps reading through the two Books of Homilies, or at least the Homily on Salvation (which is specifically referenced as the Homily on Justification by Article XI of the Thirty-Nine Articles).With the internet at one’s fingertips there are a plethora of free sources of classic sermons, catechisms, and commentaries at one’s fingertips. Many Anglican specific ones will be added to the Links section over time.

Essentially, if a couple of families (or more) are willing to gather regularly and say an office I suggest it begin with food and discussing the relevant Bible readings and then flow into a short Evening Prayer service. If it ends after prayer then you have done more than what the average family does on a weekly basis. I encourage families to press on and do a short reading and discussion of the Catechism and Thirty-Nine Articles when one is starting their fellowship of families so that everyone is, in theory, will be well-grounded on the basics of the Trinitarian and orthodox Christian faith. Afterwards, the “study” portion of the evening could expand to include sermons, classic catechisms, or devotional readings.

The key to such a fellowship is to find a few like-minded persons who are committed praying together and seeking holiness in the day-to-day. The first several meetings will be awkward in execution but persevere and things will begin to flow more naturally. Starting off small is better than trying to go “all-in” initially. A meal where everyone alternates reading the lectionary texts and then engage in a short form of Evening Prayer is an excellent start to hopefully something that will grow into a fuller study over time. Godspeed!

The Need for Common Prayer and Family Oratories

1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”

American Christianity has embraced the zeitgeist of her culture and projects the individual as the ultimate unit in society much to the detriment of the family. While Christ came to save sinners, he also has called and elected his people to be built into His body, His temple. See 1 Peter 2:4-5, 9 (“As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. … But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”).

The cell is the fundamental unit of any body, but individually cannot form tissue or parts of the body without working together. However, we are not called to be individual cells, but to work together and to become parts of the body of Christ. Furthermore, once joined with other cells to form a part of the body, we are to again come together with all of the parts of the body of Christ and to be united:

12For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slavesd or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. 14For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts,e yet one body.

– 1 Corinthian 12:12-20.

Families are traditionally the base unit and structure of the Christian church as they are the church-within-a-church and the first unit of individual cells gathered together. Therefore, it is crucial that family prayer not only occur, but also catechism occur so that the children in families understand what their faith means and believes. Only by being shaped by the waves of daily prayer and catechism can one’s mind be transformed so that their lives conform to the love that only the Spirit produces over and against the carnal self we are all born into.

Unfortunately, the American church is commonly a place for programs, seminars, and frankly worship that appeals to the individual and does not create a united body that the church is called to be. Instead, one may peruse a cafeteria of options for groups to attend, programs to participate in, and worship that suits one’s personal tastes. Ironically, contemporary evangelicalism is appealing to many of the passions and desires of the old man, without any formation of their members into becoming transformed and transforming Christians. At the end of the day, the American church is creating a creed-less Christian (an oxymoron) whose loyalty to his church is solely based upon what appeals to him, and not any underlying truth taught by his church through catechism, confession, and creed. It is a driftless Christianity with no firm anchor or foundation. It is a building made of straw on the sand and will not stand when challenged.

This is why the Book of Common Prayer is what American Christianity needs. It provides a standard of doctrine reflecting a broad orthodoxy of Reformed thought during the early Reformation and provides a manner of prayers rooted in Trinitarian worship and focused on family use for building up the body of Christ. It provides a rule, or discipline, that has been simplified from the dedicated Benedictine Order. This rule of prayer is the rule of our belief and ultimately the rule of how we live (lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi). In other words, the prayers presented by the Book of Common Prayer in Morning and Evening Prayer  shapes our faith through the wording of the services. Additionally, the services of Morning and Evening Prayer provide not only a set of prayers and optional prayers, but calls for a daily recitation of the Apostle’s Creed, the Lord’s Prayer, and selections from the Bible. When regularly performed, one will quickly learn the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and other prayers by heart to reflect upon and pray throughout the day. Additionally, the lectionary allows for one to essentially read the entire Bible within a year (when using the 1662 or 1928 prayer book). When such a discipline of regular prayer is adopted not only by the individual, but also by the family, it naturally builds up a unit of cells within the greater body of Christ.

How can Christians be built up into stronger units of the body of Christ? Through prayer, catechism, and ultimately living out the faith through service to our neighbor. This is what inspired us to begin a family oratory and to open it to other families. We base our prayer life through the Book of Common Prayer not out of Anglican superiority, but because we are Anglicans and believe that our common worship is a broad orthodoxy that bridges the divide between Lutherans and Reformed bodies. Additionally, in a time and place where the majority of American Christians are in a non-liturgical, non-creedal, and uncatechized church, we hope to offer a monthly (hopefully weekly one day) addition to their current place of worship to root them in the deep waters of ancient Christianity.

Being the body of Christ is not traversing one church program to the next, but is a discipline that creates disciples who go out into the world. We pray to be a small unit of cells at Prattville Anglican Fellowship that helps create rootedness through the prayer book for Christians yearning for something deeper. Through this small gathering it is our hope that other families and eventually circuits of families will become united in similar groups of prayer to edify  and enrich their local churches. Until we know our faith through catechism, conform our lives to daily prayer, and let those prayers transform us into actively obeying Christ through serving others, we are merely pagans wearing Christian makeup.