Our lives are filled with liturgy, though not necessarily of a Christian kind. Our day to day wants, patterns, and focuses form a kind of regular lived out pattern or liturgy of practice.
We often don’t recognize how deeply ingrained our liturgies are. At times they are centered around a particularly powerful draw (a TV show, a particular home project, hobby, smart phone obsession, sports team, music, intellectual endeavor, etc).
Our favorite draw often becomes a source of rest, relaxation, and calm. Over time these substitutes for true rest can beget their own children. We can easily become lost in a sea of decreasing satisfaction as many of our habitual interests become divorced from the true Fountain of Life. We often don’t realize the switch or even notice the decreasing amount of enjoyment.
The reason I am using the paradigm of liturgy to describe our too easily satisfied selves, is, because I think it’s a helpful way to think about the sort of intervention and practice that can break through our complacency.
We are in many ways what we let satisfy our deepest longings. If as Christians we profess Christ to be the center of our lives than we have to be serious about how the Christian faith can meet our deepest needs.
That’s where Christian liturgy and prayers can be especially helpful. Liturgical devotions, worship, and time in contemplative prayer as bookends to a day can be a way to let the Lord reorient our hopes and desires.
I’ve found that over time what started as 7-8 minutes a day in liturgical prayer, worship, and contemplation can now easily spill over into longer richer times with the Lord.
I offer this as an alternative to more common evangelical Christian formation which tend to center around prayer and reading scripture. As good as these disciplines are, I have found that unguided prayer and scripture reading make for a very slow road.
Understanding a basic sense of the scriptures, especially the Old Testament is invaluable to getting a deeper understanding for the life and ministry of Jesus and the work of God among his people.
Structured liturgical prayer has provided a strong foundation for a more serious and sustained prayer life.
If you are looking for a few resources for liturgical prayer, I’d recommend the prayer guides of Church of the Ascension, this resource from the Anglican Church in North America, and if you are looking to branch out a bit perhaps this Orthodox Prayer Guide.