Pilgrimage Reflections: Rhythms of Prayer

People have been asking me to post more reflections on my pilgrimage, so here ya go! I’m going to include my more recent pilgrimage to Mount Saviour Benedictine monastery last weekend.

One thing I particularly enjoyed about visiting various monastic communities was participating in their prayer rhythms. It’s one thing to make room in our own heart and life for prayer. It’s something entirely different to enter into the flow of the rhythms of another community.

When we were at the Stanford Boiler Room, the community gathered each evening for an hour to pray. It was a teeny prayer room, but one night we got 14 people all jammed into it! Also, as guests in the community house, we were expected to pray an additional hour a day in the on site prayer room, on our own.

At the Northumbria Community, creators of the Celtic Book of Common Prayer, they gathered to pray four times a day. 9 am, noon, 5:30 pm and 9 pm. Ten minutes before prayer, a bell would toll, and everyone would gather silently in the common lounge for prayer.

More recently at Mount Saviour, the Benedictine monks gather seven times a day for prayer. The first being at 4:45 in the morning! During those times they sing the psalms and prayer. Benedictines work their way through the entire book of Psalms once every two weeks!

I love he tolling of the bell.

The gathering in silence.

The centrality of the Word to their prayer times.

Upon our return, my travelling buddies, Peter and Sandy, decided to instigate the Northumbria Rhythm of Prayer at their home. Four times a day they ring a bell, set aside whatever they were doing, and gather to pray.

I’ve been wanting to try it at our Intentional Community House, so have been chatting with my housemates about starting evening prayers, which monastic type folks call compline. So we’ve decided to give it a go, starting tonight. We are going to try different prayer resources to see which fits us best. The Book of Common Prayer for Ordinary Radicals has a compline section, as does the Celtic Book of Daily Prayer. We are also going to try an ancient form of prayer popularized by Ignatius of Loyola, called the Prayer of Examen. And if we want to just keep it simple, we might read a psalm and pray for people we have met or needs we have been made aware of throughout the day.

We’ve also invited a couple near neighbours, including the local MoveIn patch to join us.

I really love the idea of actually re-ordering your day around rhythms of prayer, rather than just adding prayer as a tag on whenever you can fit it in. And I love the idea of a community committed to rhythms of prayer that can create a welcome space for others coming to join them. Prayer and hospitality mashed up together in lovely ways.

Here are some pics of the prayer spaces at Northumbria, Stanford, and Mount saviour. I think I’m gonna go out and buy a bell…..

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One thought on “Pilgrimage Reflections: Rhythms of Prayer

  1. I recently graduated from Wycliffe College (currently working at the Revival Centre in Hamilton) and am also interested in the rhythms of prayer in everyday life….As you probably know, the Anglican church was initially set up with this rhythm in mind.
    The mention of books of Common Prayer is an interesting “value added” to any evangelical or even fundamentalists repertoire..

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