This page is not designed to be a tutorial in prayer itself, for that you might like to look at some of the excellent books in the Recommended Reading section. Instead, this will give you some ideas as to how to get started with LifeRhythm (especially for those who do not come from a liturgically rich tradition) and how to structure the Rhythm to fit your life. You might also like to check the FAQ page as well.
The first thing you will need is some time set aside in your schedule. If you don’t schedule time for prayer, it won’t happen! To complete the whole cycle of prayer, morning, afternoon and evening takes a little under an hour, which is widely recognised as the kind of commitment required to eventually attain spiritual maturity. Don’t worry if you can’t manage all three times of prayer however, LifeRhythm is designed to build up gradually, starting with Morning Prayer (which takes about 30 minutes and focused on the gospels), and then adding in Evening Prayer (15 minutes, focussing on the New Testament) and finally adding Afternoon Prayer (another 15 minutes, focussing on the Old Testament.).
To start with then, schedule 30 minutes in the morning. This can be easily done by simply setting your alarm clock 30 minutes earlier. If you miss a day, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world – simply start again the next day.
PRAYING WITH MULTIPLE PEOPLE
The early church adopted the practice common within the Psalms of having a Reader or ‘Cantor’ read a section of scripture or say the first part of a prayer, to which the congregation would respond. This reader/response format is found within LifeRhythm. When praying as a couple or with others, you might like to rotate the role of ‘Reader’ amongst yourselves. If you are praying by yourself, then obviously, all parts are yours!
To help navigate when there are multiple people praying together, LifeRhythm uses a traditional style of presentation throughout all the readings and prayers:
- RED CAPITALS: For navigation only, not to be read.
- Red Italic Text: This is purely for information and gives direction as to who says what. Not to be read.
- Black Normal Text: Read by the Reader alone.
- Black Bold Text: Read by everyone, including the Reader.
- Black Italic Text: References to scripture readings and Psalms. To be read by whoever is reading that portion of scripture or psalm.
Morning prayer is best done as soon as you wake and before the distractions of the day crash in upon you. Once you have found a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, find a comfortable position. Some may choose to sit in a chair, others may like to kneel, others might simply prop themselves up in bed. Some people find that lighting a candle is helpful as a means of keeping the mind focussed and ‘sanctifying’ this time as something special and reserved for God. You might even want to do this around the breakfast table with your family. Find the reading for the day. This can be found in the pull-down menu at the top of the page – the black box with three white horizontal lines on it. Take a few slow, calming breaths, letting you heart focus on what you are about to do.
- ABOUT TODAY: This section is gives you valuable background information that will help you to stay orientated in your readings throughout the year. It is not part of the prayer time itself.
- CALL TO WORSHIP: This call to action begins either with “Lord, open my lips…” in Morning Prayers and with “God, come to my assistance” in the Afternoon and Evening Prayers. This was the common call to prayer used in the synagogues and adopted by the early church. It is normally followed by the phrase, “Glory be to the Father…” as a reminder that we are coming to the Triune God who is glorious and high over all!
- INVITATORY PSALM: This Psalm (or portion of a Psalm is one of a number of Psalms that are used throughout the year and change according to the Liturgical Season (Advent, Lent etc.) or day of the week (Sunday’s always start with Psalm 100). They are always said / sung together as a bold statement of faith!
- MORNING PSALM: Over the course of the year you will worship your way through the entire Psalter many times. The Morning Psalms tend to be those that focus more on praise. The psalm cycle also changed to take into account the Liturgical Season.
- WORSHIP: This time may be as long or as short as you wish, and may take the form of singing a worship hymn or chorus, listening to an inspirational song or simply spending time quietly loving the Lord. You might like to develop a playlist on iTunes or an app such as Spotify which includes songs specifically suited for this.
- PRAYER & INTERCESSION: This provides a changing cycle of prayer as you pass through the weeks and months. You may offer them thoughtfully to the Lord as they are written or alternatively just use them as prayer pointers for your own intercession. It is always good to end this time of prayer with a little spontaneous prayer as you feel able.
- THE LORD’S PRAYER: Prayed by everyone together.
- GOSPEL READING: A short section that is designed for meditation. Read it slowly, allowing plenty of time for God to speak to your heart.
- SILENCE: Times of silence are as valuable as times of worship or prayer. We recommend between 30 – 60 seconds here, but you may progress to up to 10 minutes if you wish. Allow the reading that you have just heard to slowly percolate from your mind down into your heart.
- READING FROM THE CHURCH FATHERS: This isn’t included in the text, but is only referenced there. If you would like to do this, you will need to purchase the book “Awakening Faith” by James Stuart Bell. You can find details in the Recommended Reading section.
- THE CREED: This is usually the Apostles Creed, but on high days and holidays it is sometimes substituted with the longer Nicene Creed.
- COLLECT: A final prayer that ‘collects’ the thoughts of the entire morning.
- BLESSING: This may be used as a way of closing the time of prayer and importing grace and blessing to others that you are praying with. It may be read either by the Reader or all together.
A time of prayer at lunch-time or in the afternoon can be a valuable oasis that helps recollect us to the Lord in the midst of a busy day. If said immediately before lunch time, you may like to incorporate giving thanks for the food at the end of the prayer time. The elements of Afternoon Prayer differ from those of Morning Prayer as below:
- AFTERNOON PSALM: The cycle of psalms used in the afternoon readings tend to demand more from us as readers and explore some of the tougher issues of human existence. Where possible they are reflective of, or were written in the same time frame as the Old Testament passage that is read that day.
- OLD TESTAMENT READING: This follows a four-year cycle that will take you through the entire Old Testament in the order in which things actually happened. There are some key repetitions that fall outside of this cycle (such as the reading of Proverbs every Advent and Song of Solomon immediately preceding that time), as well as special reading during the great Feasts of the church.
EVENING PRAYER (COMPLINE)
Compline (which comes from the Latin word for ‘completion’) follows a very ancient format that has been largely unchanged for many centuries. It is simple enough to memorise and it’s familiar rhythm helps to wonderfully settle the mind before sleep. It is a time of quietness and reflection and is best done as the very last thing you do before turning off the lights and going to sleep. The rubric follows the same rules as the other times of prayer, but with the following exceptions…
- EXAMINATION OF CONSCIENCE: Keeping short accounts is a vital key to spiritual life. A time of silence is allowed for personal reflection on your day, quietly allowing the Holy Spirit to bring to your remembrance times when we have fallen short of God’s standard or have failed to do what He has called us to do.
- GENERAL CONFESSION: The confession that immediately follows this silence is an ancient form of repentance, which works well both privately and in community. It is brutal, honest and a vital component to keeping a clean slate with God and promoting humility in our souls. In the call to Christ to have mercy that follows this, we have included the traditional Greek form (Kýrie eléison) as an option for those who are more familiar with this than the newer English translation.
- EVENING PSALM: The cycle of psalms used in Compline is limited to the seven psalms that are commonly used to round-off the day. You will find that the same psalms are used on the same days of the week to aid with memorisation.
- NEW TESTAMENT READING: The New Testament selection takes the reader through every Epistle and the book of Acts over the course of the year.
- RESPONSORY AND SONG OF SIMEON: This is ‘Compline proper’ and forms the most ancient part of the evening liturgy to be handed down to us. It starts with a section of responsive reading, committing our spirits to the Lord as we lay down to rest. This leads into the Song of Simeon, the prayer spoken by the aged Simeon when he held the baby Jesus as He was dedicated in the temple. This prayer is sandwiched between the repeating chorus, “Protect us, Lord, as we stay awake…” and incorporates a unified cry of praise to the Triune God, “Glory be to the Father…”
We hope you enjoy using LifeRhythm – don’t forget that you can find more information on our FAQ section or contact us by email at LifeRhythem@citypraisecentre.com