Touring the Gallery of Prayer

If you follow this blog closely, you know that I began today posting a liturgy for morning prayer for every day of Lent. This is the beginning of a larger project that I’m undertaking of curating a prayer book. I choose the word “curating” intentionally to describe what I’m doing. I’m not creating or writing anything original in these liturgies. At least not yet. Instead, I’m collecting prayers and resources from multiple traditions and bringing them together into something cohesive.

I also choose to describe my work as a curator because it points to what I believe is the best way to approach liturgy privately. Our tendency is often to approach liturgy as a “script” for our prayer. We start at the beginning and read all the prayers through until we reach the end. Such an approach makes sense in corporate settings, but I believe there’s more freedom to be experienced when we engage liturgies in times of personal prayer. Rather than as a script, I think it’s best to think of daily prayer liturgies as touring an art gallery or museum.

When walking through an art gallery, you go at the pace that is most appropriate to you. The pace that fits your mood, and the pace the fits the amount of time that you have. You may spend a long time contemplating one particular piece of art that moves you, and less time on others. You may even pass by some pieces without looking at them at all. Or, you may spend an extended amount of time in the gallery, slowly contemplating each piece. Whether you spend all of your time on one piece of art, or give equal time to each piece, your time in the gallery will be meaningful.

Think of the liturgies I post here (or any other daily prayer liturgy) as galleries of prayer. The liturgies I’m posting are long. There’s a good chance they’ll feel too long if you approach them as a script to recite. Instead, imagine that you’re entering into a gallery of prayers to God; prayers that are beautiful and that have stood the test of time. Consider each heading in the liturgy to be a different room in the gallery. As you enter each room, feel free to spend extended time with the prayers that move you. If you feel pressed for time, pass through some rooms quickly. Skip some prayers if necessary. But if you do skip, be careful. Don’t assume any prayer here to be incapable of moving you. All of the words I’ve chosen here have been used by God through multiple generations to draw people to Himself. If you do catch yourself making such an assumption with a particular, perhaps it’s time to slow down and engage that prayer more deeply.

The galleries… er… liturgies that I’ve curated consist of prayers that I have found deeply moving and helpful in my own pursuit of holiness. Though this is a new project for me, it’s really the fruit of several years of praying the daily offices. I pray that God would use these prayers for you to an even greater extent.

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