A Habit of Daily Prayer

“There should be background music of thankfulness and joy behind every incident in our day, audible only to us.”~~Timothy Keller

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“Every man dies, but not every man really lives.”~~William Wallace

Today’s word of the day, from Dictionary.com, is shmatte, “an old ragged garment; tattered article of clothing.”

Today is Sachertorte Day. Now, I have never heard of “Sachertorte,” but it sure looks delicious.

Just as expected, yesterday turned out to be really long. It was almost 6:30 before I got off work yesterday. This morning, my blogging is about to be interrupted, as I need to head up to the Quest Labs to get bloodwork done for my recent doctor visit. I’ll finish up after that, and then we have a ton of stuff to get done today, mostly involving Christmas. We’ll have fun, though.

On this date in:

1492–Christopher Columbus was the first European to set foot on the island of Hispaniola, which is now Haiti and the Dominican Republic.
1776–Phi Beta Kappa was founded at William and Mary College, becoming the first American College Fraternity.
1848–President James Polk confirmed that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California.
1932–Albert Einstein was granted an American visa.
1933–Prohibition in the U.S. ended.

Today’s birthdays include:

1782–Martin Van Buren, 8th President of the U.S.
1879–Clyde Cessna, American airplane manufacturer
1890–Fritz Lang, Austrian film director, Metropolis
1899–Sonny Boy Williamson II, American blues musician
1901–Walt Disney, American animated film producer
1906–Otto Preminger, Austrian film director, Exodus
1932–Richard Wayne Penniman, aka Little Richard, American pianist/singer
1938–J.J. Cale, American songwriter
1947–Jim Plunkett, American football player
1947–Jim Messina, American musician, Buffalo Springfield, Loggins and Messina
1952–Andy Kim, Canadian singer/songwriter
1965–Johnny Rzeznik, American singer/songwriter, Goo Goo Dolls
1968–Margaret Cho, American comedian/actress
1971–Kali Rocha, American actress, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
1976–Amy Acker, American actress, Angel, Dollhouse
1979–Nick Stahl, American actor, Carnivale

Amy Acker turns 39 today. She was born in Dallas, TX. She is best known by this family, as “Fred” and “Illyria” on the TV show, Angel. I found this clip of the scene where Fred dies and Illyria awakens. It’s rather dark and hard to see, but it’s all I could find.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Alexandre Dumas, Claude Monet, Shoeless Joe Jackson, and Don Meredith are among notable deaths on this date.

Mozart died in 1791. Regardless of how factual or unfactual the movie Amadeus may have been, in my opinion, they nailed the funeral scene, as it is known to have been raining on the day, and Mozart, dying penniless, was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

“Dandy” Don Meredith was my all-time favorite quarterback, playing for the Dallas Cowboys from 1960-1968. He died on this date in 2010. Here is a fan-made tribute to Meredith.

TODAY’S DEVOTIONAL

(From Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God)

Today, I come to the final chapter in this book, chapter fifteen, “Practice: Daily Prayer.” Timothy Keller begins this chapter with a section on the history of daily prayer.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:17, Paul admonishes us to “pray without ceasing,” which, according to Keller, means that we should do “everything all day with conscious reference to God.” He also refers to 1 Corinthians 10:31, So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Further, he says, “There should be background music of thankfulness and joy behind every incident in our day, audible only to us.” I like this idea, but consistently fall far short of it. What is being suggested here, is spontaneous and constant, but must be developed into habit. This will not happen without first taking up the discipline of “regular, daily prayer.”

We have examples of daily prayer as far back as the Old Testament. Daniel is said to have prayed three times a day, even when the powers that be attempted to stop him (Daniel 6:10). There was a medieval practice among Christians, known as horae canonicae, which was “daily, fixed hours of prayer.” This was also known as the “Daily Office,” and was allegedly tied to the challenge Jesus issued to his sleeping disciples in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:40). However, this kind of got out of hand in the ancient monasteries, as seven daily times were established at midnight, 3 AM, 6 AM, 9 AM, noon, 6 PM and 9 PM. This was “eventually proven to be physically unsupportable.”

Thomas Cranmers, one of the great Reformers, when “faced with the question of how to help ordinary people with a full day of work do daily prayer, eventually wrote the first Book of Common Prayer, in 1549. One of his concerns was that the medieval practices prevented a good acquaintance with the entirety of Scripture.

Cranmers eliminated all but two prayer times, morning and evening, and provided a Bible reading calendar with called for four chapter to be read each day, two in the morning and two in the evening. This would accomplish a single reading of the Old Testament and two readings of the New Testament in the space of one year. He also called for deep immersion in the Psalms, outlining a schedule in which all 150 Psalms could be read in one month.

In the mid nineteen forties, a practice came along that came to be known as the “Quiet Time.” This was launched by a booklet called Quiet Time: A Practical Guide for Daily Devotions, first published by InterVarsity Press in 1945. It was a thirty page booklet and became a million-seller, and “shaped and influenced at least fifty years of evangelical books and guides thereafter.”

Among the positive effects of the booklet were the insistence that “daily devotion is a discipline that requires a very deliberate act of the will.” Such practices as finding a quite place, using a journal to write down thoughts from Bible study, and an extended time of prayer, were encouraged, with a minimum of twenty minutes.

The booklet also summarized some of George Mueller’s practices, who followed Martin Luther’s lead, which has been previously discussed in the book. A series of questions is used when reading a passage of Scripture:

  • Is there any example for me to follow?
  • Is there any command for me to obey?
  • Is there any error for me to avoid?
  • Is there any sin for me to forsake?
  • Is there any promise for me to claim?
  • Is there any new thought about God Himself?

After the meditation is complete, the order of prayer suggested is confession first, followed by thanksgiving and praise, followed by intercession for others, and petitions for our own needs.

Father, help us to flesh out and take the best ideas from all of these suggestions on daily prayer. More than anything, I pray that you help us all, as your children, to develop and maintain the habit of daily prayer, which can then grow to a point of obedience to Paul’s command that we “pray without ceasing.”

Come, Lord Jesus!

Grace and peace, friends.

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