Scot McKnight’s “Praying with the Church”

Praying with the Church: Developing a Daily Rhythm for Devotional Life

As one who is originally from a very low church background, I appreciated what McKnight was trying to achieve with this little book: to demonstrate the value of regular fixed hours of prayer by using a traditional prayer book. He suggests that not only should we maintain our own “spontaneous” prayers, but that by using the traditional set prayers from various traditions, we can learn to pray with the Church – not alone within the church, but with it.

The first part of the book deals with Jesus in prayer and the wider Jewish tradition. The second part of the book introduces us to each of the major prayer books of the Roman Catholic, the Orthodox, and the Anglican traditions. He gives a useful sketch of what each entails and how they might be profitably used based on his own experience.

Importantly, McKnight points out that having fixed hours of prayer helps to reorientate our lives around a sacred rhythm. We should no longer shape our day around “breakfast, lunch, and dinner”, or “before work, work, and after work”, but rather around our times of prayer. Thus, we centre our daily lives around our communion with God, and after the pattern of Jesus’ own praxis.

This was a short, helpful little book for those new to prayer books and set times of prayer. I’ve even been persuaded to start using  The Book of Common Prayer (the Anglican one) in concert with Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours. I’ll use them for a few months and then maybe give an update on how I’ve found my journey. My only complaint about the book is that it is over-punctuated with personal testimonies of the value others have found in taking up set times of prayer. It’s not that I object to doing this in general, rather that it was a bit overdone – there wasn’t any need for quite so many. Nonetheless, 7/10.

To Buy: In the UK; In the USA (it’s on at a bargain price at the moment!)

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