Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Students and Fixed Hour Prayer

For over 25 years I've dreamed of ways to help kids connect to God in the Word and prayer.  Although I know people connect with God in different ways I'm not sure students can grow or be spiritually healthy without some sort of spiritual rhythm which includes Bible meditation and prayer.  By the way, this isn't just true for kids, it's true for all of us.

When you speak with kids you hear all kinds of good reasons for not spending focused time with God.  

*  It's boring
*  I don't understand the Bible
*  Nothing really happens
*  I'm way too busy
*  I'm too tired
*  I don't know where to start
*  I can't focus

To be honest, all those reasons make sense but I'm not giving up.  Part of the problem has been we've done a poor job giving kids tools that will help them develop a plan to spend time with God.  This summer we're going to try something a little different and radical for our ministry context.  

For all our kids and especially those who are leading or serving this summer, we're going to challenge them to not only spend time with God once a day but 4 times a day.  Crazy isn't it?

As a "non-liturgical" I'm coming to the party way late but here's what I'm learning.  The concept of "fixed hour prayer" dates back before the early church and has morphed over the centuries.  Many from liturgical traditions practice scheduled prayer and meditation today know as "the daily office", "divine hours" or "fixed-hour prayer".

For a brief but fascinating history check out this article by Phyllis Tickle.

We're using the devotions based on the daily office from the "Book of Common Prayer".  It's pretty simply.  You spend an extended time in the morning in Bible meditation and prayer and shorter periods of time around noon, early evening and right before you go to bed.  These times of prayer and meditation can be done as an individual or as a group.

I came across this great website which students can access on their phone or computer.  (A special thinks to the Church of the Savior in Allen, Texas)

Here's the plan for the summer.

A Short Introduction and Training

In a couple of weeks we're going to meet with our students who are involved in serving and leading.  As we introduce the idea and challenge them to jump in it's going to be important to focus on the heart.  Fixed hour prayer could quickly become a legalistic obligation if we're not careful.  It's always a challenge to keep spiritual rhythms fresh.

Daily Reminders From Your Cell Phone

We're going to ask them  set their phones to go off 4 times a day as a reminder.  Ok, I have no expectation that each student will do this perfectly.  In fact we're going to challenge them to walk in grace through this whole process.  But what if each student spends a little more time in the presence of God?  Even if they can't stop where they are and pray the office it still reminds them that God is present when the alarm goes off.  That's a good thing.

Implemented on Mission Trips and Camp

The daily office will drive our solo time for students and also small group time.  We're thinking creatively on how we can infuse fixed hour prayer into our trips where we have a little more influence on the schedule of students.  Again, the goal is that students would experience God's presence more consistently. 

I'm super excited about how God may use this in my life and the life of our kids.  My hope is that God will use this to connect them with himself, those close to them but also with the church around the world who consistently brings these prayer before the throne.

The Daily Offices are dedicated... to the informing concept of a cascade of prayer being lifted ceaselessly by Christians around the world; to the recognition for every observant of an exultant membership with other observants in a communion of saints across both time and space...

Phyllis Tickle

Am I crazy?

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