“as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
The human creature, like any animal, is created with a circadian rhythm which establishes a pattern for behavior during times of light and times of darkness. Nocturnal animals such as owls sleep in the day and hunt at night, while diurnal creatures such as ourselves do the reverse. “Circadian” is derived the Latin phrase “circa diem” meaning “about a day”. But we are unique in the animal kingdom in that we also have a “circa-theon” (theo- = God) pattern to our lives; that is a pattern knitted within us to praise God throughout the day.
As Ephesians informs us, we are to give thanks to God at all times, but because of our diurnal nature we not only don’t function physically as well in the winter, but also spiritually.
As the light lessens these next months we will explore an ancient practice known as the liturgy of the hours meant to strengthen our souls at any time day or night.
These fixed times of prayer are meant to be expressions of praise to God, matching the rhythm of our daily schedules while also focusing on the pattern of the life of Christ. These prayers remind us that all time is the right time to worship God and they keep us spiritually balanced throughout the day so that whatever we face we do so with the presence of God in our hearts and minds.
During the weight of winter and its increasing darkness, a pall of gloom can enter our hearts. So in these next six weeks we will move through this pattern of daily prayer in our worship services so that the light of Christ might ever be in our hearts.
Specifically we will explore:
- January 8 | PRIME: This is morning prayer at dawn to start the day with praise to God. The first hour of the Christ counts not at His birth but the beginning of His teaching at the temple as a 12-year-old boy; that is the beginning of His ministry, like the beginning of our day.
- January 15 | NONE: This time of prayer occurs around 3:00 PM. The time of day when our energy flags and our souls droop but still a critical time for work and prayer to be done. It is the time in which Jesus was maintaining His focus on healing, teaching, and battling the authorities even while He knew the time of darkness was soon approaching.
- January 22 | VESPERS: This prayer comes at sunset and is a time of peace and tranquilly. In Jesus’ life it is the time that He is gathering friends, being well met by the crowd, and teaching people how to live.
- February 5 | COMPLINE: It is the end of the day, in which we complete the circle. It is the time when Jesus knew His teaching and healing ministry was finished and He enjoys one last moment by entering into Jerusalem.
- February 12 | MATINS: This comes in the darkness before dawn – the hours of the night in which you cannot sleep because the weight of life presses heavily, mightily, upon you and all you can do is offer your worries up to God. For Jesus’ it was the hour of His forsakenness and crucifixion.
- February 19 | LAUDS: The coming of the light at dawn. It is the time of new life, as Jesus’ resurrection was, and as ours waking from sleep is. Each day is a new day. Lauds happen on the precipice of dawn as we await for the new sun to great us with its warmth and hope.
I encourage you to try this pattern of prayer in these months that you not only grow in your knowledge of God through reading particular scriptures, but so that your soul might be shaped into the light of Christ for all to gain warmth.