An interview with Arthur Boers on daily prayer

Author of the new Herald Press book, Day by Day These Things We Pray: Uncovering Ancient Rhythms of Prayer, chats about the practice of daily prayer

January 19, 2011 | Artbeat | Number 2
Herald Press |

Herald Press: What is daily prayer?

Boers: Common daily prayer is the practice—or discipline—of praying every morning and evening, using a set of prayers being used by other Christians around the world. In the more liturgical traditions, this practice is variously called the “daily office,” “divine office,” “common prayer,” “liturgy of the hours,” “morning and evening prayer,” and even “fixed-hour prayer.”

Herald Press: Why is it important for Christians to set aside some time every day to pray?

Boers: We live in an era when our notion of time has shifted pretty dramatically. Today, time is almost meaningless; we can shop or work anytime we want. This is good in some ways, since we are no longer tethered to a clock. But it’s also a burden. Now we are tethered to our work. This way of praying teaches us to reclaim a rhythm of engaging with God, and releasing things to God on a regular schedule.

With all the busyness in our lives, it is easy to get off balance and forget our relationship with God. By making a commitment to pray at certain times, we can keep our spiritual balance and remind ourselves that God is central to our daily activity.

Herald Press: How can praying written prayers like this help Christians with their prayer and devotional lives?

Boers: Written prayers can help you focus, direct your attention, and expand your imagination for what you pray about and whom you pray for. It can challenge us to pray beyond our comfort zones—to pray for more than only ourselves, or our family and friends.

It also helps when we find it hard to pray, or don’t feel like praying. During times of crisis, or when you can’t pray, it’s an anchor. When you don’t know what to say, the prayers help you verbalize the thoughts and ideas that might be hard to express.

There’s also something powerful about knowing that you are joining others around the world in praying the same prayers or for the same things. It’s a way of expressing solidarity with the wider church, and also of not feeling alone.

Herald Press: What is your goal with this book?

Boers: The way I like to describe it is to say that I want to help people uncover the practice of common daily morning and evening prayer. It has never really been lost, of course; lots of Christians still practise it. But many others have misplaced it, perhaps even buried it. Distortions, misdirected emphases, misguided priorities and even good intentions went wrong. These have gradually covered up and reworked the original genius of morning and evening prayer.

Yet it remains there in the roots of Christianity, even within Protestant traditions. What is required, then, is not to find, invent or discover something new. Rather, we have the gift and opportunity to encounter what is already there and to claim it as a potential legacy for all Christians. It is part of our heritage, and it can still be a great blessing.

My hope is that readers will join me in exploring what happened to such prayer, and then see its potential for renewing our spiritual lives, and enriching the life of the wider church.


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