[This is part of an ongoing series about bringing peace to my daily life. You can read the other posts on this subject here (scroll down).]
To reiterate what may or may not have been clear from my last post, my goal with praying the Liturgy of the Hours is twofold: to finally start praying regularly to make prayer the priority I say it is; and to bring some desperately needed rhythm and structure to my life. This second goal is one of the reasons that I’m going to go ahead and say all three major hours rather than just start with one. Because I realize that this is a big change, I make no speculation about whether or not I’ll continue this after this week. I will see how it goes, judge the endeavor by its fruit, and evaluate from there.
Also, I should add that I did a “trial run” this past week to see where in my schedule there are natural fits for prayer time, and to give myself a chance to familiarize myself with the process before making any bold proclamations on my blog. 🙂
Without further ado, here is what I am committing to do from Monday to Friday of this week:
- I will start praying each prayer within 15 minutes of the time I have set for it: I have written out the times at which I will pray Lauds (Morning Prayer), Vespers (Evening Prayer) and Matins (the Office of Readings). I realize that it is not at all required that I be so precise with the timing, but that’s the whole idea about having “hard stops”. If I commit to “praying Lauds whenever I can get around to it, sometime in the morning” it will never happen. Giving myself too much flexibility on timing makes it all too tempting to put everything else first, e.g. “I’ll start Vespers after I do this load of laundry…”
- I will light candles at Vespers (Evening Prayer), and the day’s work stops then: As I said in one of my last posts, I yearn to live life in the natural rhythm of day/night cycles, yet I am not ready to make the huge step of foregoing artificial light. But what I can do is observe the ancient tradition of Vespers being the prayer said at the lighting of the lamps in the evening: I will light candles as a symbolic gesture that night has come, and work that is not finished must wait until tomorrow. (This doesn’t include our night routine, dinner / cleanup / baths, which will happen after Vespers).
- I will be prepared to make sacrifices: If a friend drops by just as I’m about to start Vespers, if the kitchen isn’t cleaned up when it’s time for Lauds, if I have to take my prayer book with me because I’ll be out and about during Matins, I will still stop and pray. I’m prepared that this may cause some inconveniences, but that’s the whole point about having hard stops, and one of the big reasons I’m doing this: to inconvenience myself and my tendencies to get distracted and put trivial matters before my true priorities.
- I will accept imperfection: Since I am brand new at this and am attempting to do it on my own, I will undoubtedly not do it perfectly. I will make every effort to say each office correctly, but I’m also not going to let myself get derailed if it’s not perfect (as I have in the past).
That’s it. This coming week, life revolves around prayer. Though I will go through my days as usual, I will not worry about doing anything other than simply sticking to these four commitments. Will I get nothing done? Will the house be a wreck? Will the kids hate it? Will the sacrifices I’ll have to make to put prayer first be just too much?
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