But having seen (the promises) afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.
Hebrews 12:13-14 New King James Version
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This is a re-post from over a year ago about Vespers at The Commonplace. I have been there most every Sunday since we began. Occasionally I have had a companion or two praying with me. Just wanted to post that it is still going on, and you are still welcome to join me on the prayer journey. — Keith
Each Sunday evening I will be at The Commonplace at 6 pm to join with anyone who would like to participate in evening prayer, known as Vespers. Vespers is a very old tradition with roots in the ancient Hebrew practice of praying at specific hours of the day. The form that I use is pulled together from various Christian traditions and includes a time of prayer for specific needs. We will combine this time of prayer with scripture meditation.
Let me flesh it out a little more for you if you…
Vespers is the sixth of the traditional 7 hours of prayer. “The practice of daily prayers grew from the Jewish practice of reciting prayers at set times of the day: for example, in the Book of Acts, Peter and John visit the Temple for the afternoon prayers (Acts 3:1). Psalm 119:164 states: “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws.” Wikipedia.
Also known as Evening Prayer or the Evening Office, Vespers is basically a combination of written prayers, affirmations of faith, psalms, Old and New Testament readings. It also includes prayer for the needs of others. All of this is done with a quiet attitude of meditation with an ear to God.
The form that I will use is a work in progress. At its core is Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community in England. To this I have added prayers from The Book of Common Prayer (Anglican tradition), and Missio Dei Breviary (Anabaptist/Neo-monastic). For the psalms and lessons I will be using a lectionary (list of readings for each day of the year). I anticipate including historic prayers of Jesus followers throughout the ages and from sources ranging from contemporary to a variety of Christian traditions.
Here you can see the liturgy that I have compiled as of today for Vespers @ The Commonplace. In addition to Vespers we will be spending some time in scripture meditation on one of the lessons of the day. Following this we will have an opportunity to share some word that God has prompted in our hearts. Because I know that these practices are a little foreign to many of my friends, each evening there will be a little instruction in these disciplines.
Here is a sample schedule for Vespers @ The Commonplace.
6:00 pm We will begin with brief instructions as needed.
6:15 pm Quiet our hearts for prayer.
6:20 pm Vespers begin
•Opening words, confession, affirmations of faith, psalms, scripture lessons
•Prayer (written & extemporaneous)
7:20 pm Sharing, questions, and debriefing as needed.
About 3 years ago I began using Celtic Daily Prayer to form the rhythm of my prayer throughout the day. During those years I must confess, I have had various levels of faithfulness to the practice. I have found the practice to bring stability in my own life as I lift up my heart regularly throughout the day to the Lord. The re-focusing of my life regularly around familiar words of prayer has helped to form my thoughts and intentions God-ward. In the most difficult of times I have found comfort. And the daily reminder of my dependence on the Lord has helped to assuage pride, arrogance, and anger and encourage humility, caring and love. To me it has been one of the most formative spiritual disciplines in my life.
Another very formative discipline for me has been scripture meditation. To me meditation is the thumb of a five fingered grip on scriptures. Hearing, reading, studying, memorizing and meditation form the basis of getting God’s word in our hearts to form us for life, godliness and mission. Deeply thinking on scripture, listening to God’s word to our hearts, responding in surrender, are all part of meditating.
I am not a pro at any of this. Just to let you know. I am looking for this to be an experiential and experimental time in delving into formative spiritual disciplines. You are invited to join me. I’ll be there praying each Sunday evening.