Let me get this confession out of the way first: I am liturgically disabled. 🙂 And having gone from no religious background whatsoever to the reformed-arminian-charismatic-relational Christian mutt I am today, I’ve never really felt the need to hunt down any liturgical materials either.
Doug Jones, however, felt differently—although Christians of any persuasion should be able to identify with the struggles that eventually led him there:
Even though I knew praying was important, I still found it so difficult. Prayer, as I was learning it, seemed to be a rigorous mountain—one I was unable to climb. When I tried my hand praying in this spontaneous fashion, I found doing so to be a stumbling and difficult art at which I was not particularly gifted….
What if there is a way to pray that is more about our heart attitude and less about our ability to put our own words to prayers?
That latter question is eloquently answered with Dawn to Dark.
R. Douglas Jones. Dawn to Dark: A Book of Christian Prayer. 288p., $14.99, The House Studio.
The bulk of this book is the two weeks’ of prayers that carry the pray-er, as promised, from dawn to dark—and drawn from a variety of sources including psalms, hymns, The Book of Common Prayer, Celtic prayers from Iona, St. Benedict’s Prayer Book, etc. Each of the four daily prayer times will likely run you a half-hour, so budget your time wisely.
The book is lovely just for the language itself, and for its unwavering focus on God’s glory—this is true vertical worship. And it’s worth noting that the design of the book itself reflects the feel of the words. It’s just really nicely done all around.
The first thing I noticed, as I actually took the time to work through this book on my own, is that it’s not so much the prayers themselves working within me. True, they’re prayers squarely focused on God’s glory instead of my laundry list, and that in itself is an improvement; but what I really found affecting me were the times of silence that were built in between the different sections of prayer. We’re in such a hurry to try to establish God’s peace in our hearts. Doug’s (ancient) process forces us to slow down enough to allow God to speak to us—and as a consequence, us to Him as well.
Now mind you, I don’t expect to switch over to a prayer book on a permanent basis. But working through Dawn to Dark was kind of a liberating experience—as well as one more weapon in the arsenal, if you will. Sometimes we need to just step back and join the chorus of those before us, especially when our own spirits and words have become exhausted. Thus, Doug Jones helps equip us here for the journey deeper into God’s heart, and no Christian can get by without moving on in that journey.