The Beauty of Rote
In you, O Lord, have I taken refuge; let me never be put to shame: *
deliver me in your righteousness. -- Ps. 31:1
This past Sunday's sermon revolved around lex orandi, lex credendi, the saying that means praying shapes believing. Our prayer life can inform and shape our wider life if we allow it to do so. During that sermon I had ushers pass out a small Daily Devotional tri-fold taken from the BCP. The devotional leads us through prayers in the morning, at noon day, and in the early evening. There are, of course, other times you can pray, but (as I suggested) if you set an alarm on your cell phone to ring at those times you will be guaranteed three times a day when you settle down and spend some time with God.
Another time to pray is at the close of day. The BCP service for the end of the day is Compline, and the portion of Psalm 31 above comes from there.
Joelene and I pray Compline at bedtime almost every night as part of our routine. Within that service there are several Psalms, readings, and prayers from which the Officiant can choose to read. When it's my turn to lead, I will typically alternate readings and prayers, but I will always choose to read Ps. 31.
My reasoning for that is because, for me, prayer and liturgy have a way of seeping into me the more familiar I am with it. Maybe this is why I like being an Episcopalian so much – the service has the same path and the same cadence week after week, month after month, year after year. Far from being rote and monotonous, this familiarity allows the liturgy to become part of me to the point that it keeps me grounded when I feel flustered and anchored when I feel like I'm drifting in the abyss.
In this chaotic world, may we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life find familiarity and strength, solace and comfort, groundedness and security in the routines of regular prayer and worship. And may we never look at these times of prayer and worship as an obligatory duty to be performed but as a privilege to sit with God in spaces that are holy.