As a little girl, I found that I had a really difficult time praying on Sunday morning. To me, kneeling after communion never inspired the most thoughtful and honest conversations with God. Through the eyes of my adolescent self, prayers always seemed to materialize the same way and ultimately ended up being a laundry list of things that I wanted to happen. I’d like to think that I’ve made leaps and bounds in my spiritual life since those early (and simplistic) days, but the reality is that some of my prayerful time still ends up being a plea with God- and it’s taken me years to recognize that this isn’t always the worst thing.
As a product and proponent (personally and professionally) of Shrine Mont Camps, I can say that one of the most lasting lessons I took away from camp- one that is continually reshaped and revitalized the more time I spend at camp as an adult- is that there are an infinite amount of ways to praise (and pray to) God. As counselors explaining this to campers, our rationale centered on praising God through kindness toward others and showcasing your strengths. While the way we presented this concept of ever-praising God was very basic, I find that it still rings particularly true as my role in the life of Shrine Mont Camps has become a more behind-the-scenes one. Finding the glory in praising God is not quite as easy when buried under camper registrations and health forms (a joyful burial nonetheless!). I’ve been pleased to discover that perhaps having the chance to communicate with camper parents in a way that serves their needs most fully could be one of those unique ways to praise and pray with God…or maybe I’m just pulling for straws?
Either way, praying looks so different for each and every one of us, a fact that is both beautiful and confusing to a little girl on Sunday who is trying to figure out how this whole prayer business even works in the first place. While I am sure that many of us have had some sort of success figuring out the way to pray that works most fully and beautifully for us, we’d still like to celebrate a few different ways to pray through the resources below. These devotionals and prayer books may not look quite as normal as our beloved Book of Common Prayer, but they nonetheless offer up a refreshing way to approach your prayer life. We hope that you will consider integrating one (or several!) of the following into your prayer rotation. Many thanks to Grace-on-the-Hill, an intentional community of the Episcopal Service Corps in Richmond, VA, for sharing these particular prayer books with us. Enjoy…and happy praying!
- The Saint Helena Breviary approaches prayerful life with language that strives to be fully inclusive and sensitive. The Order of Saint Helena, a community of women in the Episcopal Church, approached their office book with the hopes of creating a prayer book that can reach clergy and lay people, across different denominations, who are searching for a regimen of prayer. Inside you’ll find prayers for different times of day, prayers for days of the week and more adapted for expansive language.
- Celtic Prayers from Iona was created by J. Phillip Newell, a member of the Iona Abbey ecumenical community in western Scotland. Each day represented in this prayer book reflects an important tenet to the Ionan people, including themes of inclusion, justice, healing and being stewards of our earth. Using language that speaks more directly to a modern world, these prayers are honest, touching, spiritual and anciently applicable.
- A New Zealand Prayer Book was assembled by a group of liturgists, laity and clergy in New Zealand in efforts to breathe some modernity into the pages of our Anglican prayer literature. What resulted was this beautiful prayer book which simultaneously preserves the tradition of Anglicanism while also incorporating fresh and modern language and liturgy. The direct language allows readers and pray-ers alike to connect with God freely and lovingly.
- To Bless the Space Between Us offers a collection of blessings steeped in Celtic tradition to help us through any and all of the events we experience throughout life. Written by John O’Donohue, an Irish teacher and poet, this book of blessings offers a less traditional way to pray and simultaneously celebrate life’s expected and unexpected, whether it be joyous or heartbreaking. By focusing on transitional experiences and periods of life, O’Donohue offers tools to help us bless ourselves and- perhaps more importantly- bless others.