In a Book Bind

I know this is all a bunch of adiaphora, and that the following discussion is a bit contrary to some other statements I’ve made in the past about liturgy.  Nonetheless . . .

I’m in a bit of a bind about a book. 

I’ve been trying to pray every day using an amended version of The Suffrages (otherwise known as Responsive Prayer), a simple order of prayer from my tradition based on Luther’s advice for prayer (for information about this order of prayer and my changes, click here).  I composed the liturgy in a Microsoft Publisher document and formated it to fold a few times and fit inside my Bible.  I also print out the list of daily reading, prayers, and commemorations each week, and tuck those inside my Bible, too.  I try to pray it at least once daily.

One Bible, two small pieces of paper tucked inside the front cover.  It makes daily prayer very easy, particularly when I was doing this devotion on the train every day.

But now I usually do my devotion at the office or at home, where I have the luxury of holding in my hands the worship book of my Lutheran church.  However, the version of this order of prayer that appears in our worship book – Evangelical Lutheran Worship – doesn’t include my changes, of course.  But I like my changes.  I think they make good theological and liturgical sense.

So, do I pray as the church in its collective wisdom has outlined in our shared worship book, or do I pray in the way I’ve devised?  I admit that this is partly an ego thing, partly a piety thing, partly an ecclesiology thing, partly an anal thing.  And of course, it is all an adiaphora thing.

For now I’ll keep my amended order of prayer tucked inside the front cover of my Bible, and use it as I pray apart from the worship book of my church.  But when I’m at the office or at home, I might find myself reaching for Evangelical Lutheran Worship along with my bible for my devotion, to hold in my hand a book – that with its predecessor books – connects me with a church whose traditions and teachings transcend my ego, inform my piety, and offer me a rich font of wisdom and strength for a life of faith.

Let us pray.

Published by Chris Duckworth

Spouse. Parent. Lutheran Pastor. Veteran. Jedi. Political Junkie. Baseball Fan.

8 thoughts on “In a Book Bind

  1. I don’t do that sort of prayer, so I’m not speaking from experience here, but you could look at this as two riches, one you are familiar with and one you might learn to love. You could make a point of so many days of one type and so many days of the other.
    If this were me, I’d make a big deal out of typing it all up, putting it in a special place, and then discovering the papers in that special place about 6 months later.

  2. Sounds like you value the connection to other pray-ers in other times and spaces, and that’s what a “given” liturgy can provide. But you know that. Nothing wrong with one’s own adaptations! But I’d always want to stay connected with what is being prayed widely.

  3. Might I suggest seasonal adjustments to help you balance your adaptations with the prayers of the church? Perhaps keep using “your” version until Advent, and use ELW for Advent and Christmas, and then switch back, etc. Perhaps that sort of back and forth would help this dilemma.
    Have you tried “For All the Saints”? It is a daily prayer book put out by ALPB. It is in 4 volumes (2 for each year of the daily prayer cycle), and includes all three readings, plus a reading from the Saints for the day; and also includes the four daily prayer services of LBW, the Small catechism, and a full psalter. Of course, the lectionary and the services are those of LBW not ELW, but it is a handy single-volume resource for daily prayer.

  4. If you limit your perceptions of praying as your church does to a book, you need to remember that not all in the ELCA use the new ELW. If you want to pray as others do, your adaptations will do nicely. You are still praying the words of the faith in which you are baptized. I think that your prayer discipline and your daily ritual are a great way to pray with the saints.

  5. As others have mentioned, any prayer form we use is temporary. Your present solution is good, and for all the right reasons. Pastor David mentions “For All the Saints”. It is a handy reference, but its drawbacks are huge. It uses RSV, which to my ears grates now, especially with its exclusive language, even though that is the version I learned as a child. My mantra is: “Whatever keeps me prayin'”.

  6. I like what David had to say…not everyone uses the ELW or the LBW (for that matter). I think there is a lot of value of praying the collective prayers of the Church, but there is also value in praying the prayers that YOU feel connects you with God. There is no one “right” way.
    I know that you are a big supporter of the ELW, and the church I serve is moving in the ELW direction. There is good stuff in there. But just because the “collective wisdom” of a group of people written and/or compiled these prayers, it doesn’t mean that is THE way to pray. I say keep what you have written and use that and use the ELW. It’s not a ego thing. It’s a connection thing with God. Something different for everyone.

  7. As an employee of the ELCA primarily responsible for worship resources, I have to say that I agree with Eric above. His comments reflect much of the rationale behind the work of the Renewing Worship project and the family of ELW resources. The ELW is not meant to be the end all and be all of worship resources for the church. In our official language, it is the “primary resource” which, in the language itself, assumes secondary and/or contextual resources. I love that you are struggling with the question of what to use in your personal prayer life. It reveals your committment and connection to the wider church. I wish more folks would be this inquisitive and reflective of how their faith practices connect them with the larger body of saints out there.

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