Thursday, October 6, 2016

Review: The Divine Hours (Complete Year) by Phyllis Tickle

Synopsis: The Divine Hours is the first major literary and liturgical reworking of the sixth-century Benedictine Rule of fixed-hour prayer. This beautifully conceived and thoroughly modern three-volume guide will appeal to the theological novice as well as to the ecclesiastical sophisticate. Making primary use of the Book of Common Prayer and the writings of the Church Fathers, The Divine Hours is also a companion to the New Jerusalem Bible, from which it draws its Scripture readings. The trilogy blends prayer and praise in a way that, while extraordinarily fresh, respects and builds upon the ancient wisdom of Christianity. (from the online description)

Review: C.S. Lewis once remarked that there was a general distrust, particularly by Protestants, of fixed, repetitive prayer. It was claimed they violated the scripture in Matthew 6, in which Jesus admonishes his listeners to not engage in “meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.” The fixed-prayer cycle of The Divine Hours may seem like that to the prejudiced mind. But Lewis, in the Screwtape Letters, speaks of the parrot babbles we did as a child, as if repeating a prayer is a childish thing, and the truly spiritual compose only spontaneous prayers. For me, spontaneous prayers are a disaster for a mind as prone to meander as mine. It is quite impossible for me to pray longer than twenty seconds without straying to thoughts all together unholy. Hence my need for an anchor, a corral, a hemmed in path for my mind to pray along, so as not to get lost.
This trilogy is just that sort of thing. Phyllis Tickle has taken the Book of Common Prayer and laid it out so those of use who find the actually book daunting may still unitlize this excellent tool. There is a minor amount of uncertainty when first starting as to the dates, but once you start, the dates settle into a rhythm. There are four times of prayer: Morning, Mid-Day, Vespers, and Night. The prayers themselves are mostly scripture Psalms with other readings added occasionally. The Vespers prayer has a hymn or piece of poetry and the Night Office usually has writings by universally acknowledge Saints of God.
I highly recommend The Divine Hours. Praying this will encourage you, guide you, deepen your relationship with God, and give you structure and peace. It is an excellent tool for those who wish to improve their prayer life but are uncertain how or where to begin. Even those who have been Christians for many years will benefit from the act of praying the scriptures.

Bookmarks: 8 of 10

Awards: None

ISBN: 978-0-385-50540-6 / 978-0-385-50557-4 / 978-0-385-50476-8
Year Published: 2000 / 2001 / 2000
Date Finished: 10-1-2016
Pages: 661 / 670 / 647

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