You gotta mean it


2730424901_e042498928Over the past few weeks, I’ve started praying the office at the suggestion of Paul Hill. He recommended this to help me begin developing a sacred rhythm.

I wasn’t sure how I would feel about praying a written prayer. After all, these weren’t my words, so how could I mean it? 

But what does it mean to “mean it?” Do I need to screw my face up the right way when I’m saying it? Does my voice need to go into a raspy, quiet, contemplative tone? Do I need to feel something, well, meaningful while I’m talking with God? Do the words need to be original, not some practiced speech or memorized rite?

I don’t think any of those accurately describe “meaning it.”

For me, “meaning it” equates to understanding, agreeing with and appreciating what is being said.

By repeating the same words day after day, week after week, the meaning of what I’m saying has become more significant. As I’ve grown more familiar with the prayer, I’ve encountered greater beauty in what I’m praying. And, praying someone else’s words has certainly improved my “creative” prayer life, in that organic, spontaneous prayer has become a more frequent occurrence during my day. 

I strongly recommend praying the office. Developing a sacred rhythm – despite the fact it’s only been three weeks – has already been a wonderful experience for me. I mean it.

Do you participate in any daily prayer ritual? If so, what does it look like? And how do you keep meaning it?


Photo by Jeff The Trojan.

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  1. February 11, 2009 at 9:01 am — Reply

    Todd, good to read about your experience with CDP. I guess you probably know, however, that you have to be extremely careful with whatever Paul suggests 🙂

  2. February 11, 2009 at 4:46 pm — Reply

    a little crazy. I just started doing something very similar this week, using a book called The Divine Hours. I’ve used this kind of approach before, and I’ve always loved it. It’s almost as though I can’t be counted on to conjure up both the discipline to sit and pray AND the creativity to know what to do when I get there. Does that make sense?

    In any case, I’m with you. I enjoy this kind of prayer as well.

  3. February 11, 2009 at 4:50 pm — Reply

    I completely understand what you mean Kim. I used to try to write my prayers, but I struggled so much with coining the right phrase and not sounding stupid, that my prayers ended up being less meaningful than “God is great, God is good…” (not that there’s anything wrong with that prayer).

    Paul also recommended Tickle’s Divine Hours, but I chose to go the Celtic route for three reasons:
    1. I think Celtic stuff is awesome.
    2. I think the name “Tickle” is funny and I worried it would affect my prayer discipline.
    3. This Celtic prayers were free of charge.

  4. February 12, 2009 at 3:55 am — Reply

    Glad to know you’re giving CDP a try. Divine Hours is also free online. But you can buy books for both.

    For me it’s the praying with others (the cloud of witnesses gone by) and the brothers and sisters I will never know all over the world.

    Most of all, behind the form, the rhythm, the routine, the words, stands one in whose likeness these prayers tend to shape us into.

  5. Emily
    February 12, 2009 at 10:57 am — Reply

    I used the book Venite: An Invitation to Daily Prayer to do the same thing some years ago. I’d like to make it a habit, actually. Formal prayer has been part of church liturgy for hundreds of years. and it’s vital to my own spiritual practice. (I’m actually uncomfortable with a lot of extemporaneous public prayer.)

    If you like Celtic stuff, you should attend the Celtic evening communion at St. James sometime. It’s a pretty (and short) service Sunday evenings at…5:30, I think.

    • February 12, 2009 at 11:01 am — Reply

      Emily, Hayley and I attended there Sunday night. It was a little foreign to us, but we liked it.

  6. Emily
    February 12, 2009 at 11:58 am — Reply

    Shoot, I’m sorry I wasn’t there, then. I hope Kate was preaching….if not, you all must go back when she’s officiating.

  7. February 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm — Reply

    I’ll have to agree that its good to have something to say that someone has put a lot of thought into- it takes out much of my stammering. Um, so its Thursday and I…..

  8. February 13, 2009 at 2:20 pm — Reply

    a late addition… another thing I’ve realized about my own weakness when it comes to disciplines: it’s better if I do these things away from the computer. better to have a book, and a bible, and a notebook, and a pen. Because then all I have to deal with is my tendency to daydream. When I’m at the computer I’m like all ‘hey! I wonder what’s going on with my twitter peeps? hey! how about that ebay thing? hey! I need to send Whatzit that email really quick!’

    For what it’s worth. Old school is helping me regain my footing.

  9. February 13, 2009 at 2:25 pm — Reply

    I’ve actually copied down each of the prayers into a journal, and I’ve started working on adding the daily scriptures and devotionals too. This is helpful because as I write the words, they take on new life and meaning for me and it helps me gain some independence from my iMac.

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You gotta mean it