Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Wednesday, June 15

The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime (pp. 84-85)

To read today's office, click here.

The practice of a sacred rhythm of prayer, or saying your prayers or offices daily, along with the Church, is rooted in Israel's reciting of the Shema ("Hear, O Israel") as found today in Deuteronomy 6:4-9. The Psalmist speaks of praying three times a day -- morning, noonday, and evening (actually the original text begins with evening, as the Jewish day began in the evening). The reason this is done is not so humans could feel special or religious, as if doing something religious three times a day somehow earned favor with God.

No, the reason for the sacred rhythm of prayer and praying with the Church is so we can reminded of what is most important. The reciting of the Shema twice a day reminds us that we are to love God as a central focus of life; Jesus' amendment of the Shema by adding "and love your neighbor as yourself" (what I call The Jesus Creed) enables us to be reminded that life is about loving God and loving others.

And our text today tells us that we need to be reminded of what God has done for us. The lines "come to us" and "come and listen all you who fear God" finds a wonderful climax in our Morning Psalm: "That which we have heard [by reciting the stories over and over!] and known, what our forefathers have told us, we will not hide from our children." What will they tell them? "We will recount to generations to come the praiseworthy deeds and power of the Lord, and the wonderful works he has done." Why? "That the generations to come might know." Why? "So that they might put their trust in God."

The major reason why recitation of Scriptures, which is what The Divine Hours is all about, is because not everyone had Scriptures at hand -- so the leaders read them aloud so the people could hear, listen, remember, and recite. We are fortunate to have all our Bibles, but this fortune needs to be met with responsibility -- the responsibility of reading and hearing and embracing and telling others of the great works of God.