14 Jun Practicing Fixed Hour Prayer
By Pastor Trevor Horn –
In our last message, Practicing the Presence, I talked about how the goal of our lives is to “be” with God. We studied through Genesis 3:22-24 and how our original ancestors had missed the point of their creation. They had become like God but were no longer with him; being driven out of Eden. The meaning of this text shows that the pursuit of happiness and success is not first found in becoming like God or merely being a good person but being with God in his presence. And from his presence is the proper place where we truly become like him.
From this place I challenged us as a community to practice Fixed-Hour Prayer. This is one of many spiritual disciples that has been practiced throughout church history and is a key tool for us to be able to practice the presence of God throughout our days. Whether you have been practicing Fixed-Hour Prayer since we gathered a week and a half ago or have yet to pick up this practice my challenge is that all of us would give it an intentional try over the next few days. Here are some practicals for us as we practice this discipline:
What is Fixed Hour Prayer (also known as the Daily Office)?
- It is a spiritual practice/discipline that has been practiced throughout church history.
- It is sort of like what we call “quiet time” or “devotions” but different. The main difference is that we do Fixed-Hour Prayer a few times throughout our day in shorter spurts versus one time at the beginning of our day. Many times I have said and I have heard people say that the goal of devotions is “getting filled up for the day.” That’s not terrible but one of my worries is that we can be turning to God to get something from him instead of just being with him. Peter Scazzero in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality writes, “The root of the Daily Office is not so much turning to God to get something but to be with Someone.” Learning to “be” with God for his presence is the goal of this practice.
- Essentially it is designated times of prayer each day. So it is 3-5 times a day where you designate a time to stop and pray and to be with God. It could be 2, 20 or 45 minutes (a set amount of time isn’t the point) but the point is fixated time where we are stopping to be with God and acknowledge his presence in our daily lives.
- Something like this…
- 6 AM – Morning Prayer
- Noon – Mid-Day Prayer
- 6 PM – Evening Prayer
- Something like this…
What do I do in a given Fixed-Hour Prayer time?
Peter Scazzero points out four elements of Fixed-Hour Prayer that summarize this practice well:
- Stopping – We stop and unhurry ourselves. We stop at the given time and put down what we are doing. This is important but hard step because each office we give up control to trust God with our time and day.
- Centering – This is the hardest part for many because it is so easy to get real focused when we are working and in the midst or our days (I know personally as I am the most focused person you will ever meet…). We are to take a few minutes to stop, let go of tensions, distractions, etc. Close your eyes. Breath and listen. This part is all about centering one self not on what we have been doing but on God and his active presence in our lives.
- Silence – Dallas Willard described this as one of the most radical spiritual disciplines in our loud, urban, media driven environment. Sit in silence and listen to God.
- Scripture – Psalms are a foundation of almost every Fixed-Hour Prayer and has been the prayer book for the church through the centuries. Read a psalm (start in the beginning) and say a prayer to God based on this Psalm.
- I am adding a fifth point that I think it vital – Remember the Purpose – The purpose is to remember God and be with him throughout our daily lives. Many times we can do these sort of things in attempt to get God to love us and that’s not the point. Learn to come from a place of grace and love in any given spiritual practice.
What are some practical tools when practicing Fixed-Hour Prayer?
- Determine 3-4 times a day where you can stop in your given schedule when you know you will be free. 7 AM, Noon and 7 PM (whenever works in your schedule). Do it at least once in the morning, midday and evening sometime. Do this practice until we gather again on Sunday or feel free to keep practicing this if it is helpful to your spiritual life.
- Stop, Center and Silence really set up the Scripture time. So go for a walk, whatever gets you to stop.
- Have your Bible with you, open up to the Psalms. Start in Psalm 1. Read it and let it guide your prayer time. Each one office each day take a different Psalm.
- Again, the time could be 2 minutes, 20, 45 or whatever. It’s up to you but the point is regular remembrance of God’s presence in our daily lives and arranging our lives around the practice of the presence of God where eventually every moment we sense this constant communion with him.
We pray this practice is encourages, challenges and grows you as you practice the presence of God in daily life!