I was at church this week on Monday. We were having a First Degree. I was there just helping get stuff set up. We had a good turn-out and I didn’t stay until the end of the ceremony. As I was leaving, about 7:15 pm or so, I saw the light on in the Sanctuary. I then heard the prayers in unison from across the silent church. As they do most nights, a group gathers in the evening and offers prayers.
Standing there, listening to them in a mostly dark church on a cold January day, I couldn’t help but wonder if this is what praying sounds like to God. We Knights send out many prayer requests for our members and their family’s. We see requests from friends on Facebook that say “pray for me” or “keep me in your prayers.” There’s something special about praying in community, everyone saying the same thing, at the same time. Before our meetings, many of us gather and pray a Rosary together, in a community.
I have this great app on my iPhone, it’s called Divine Office. It always starts out with the following introduction.
From ancient times, the Church has had the custom of celebrating each day the liturgy of hours. In this way, the Church fulfills the Lords precept to pray without ceasing, at once offering praise to God the Father and interceding for the salvation of the world.
One of the many cool features is the “Now In Prayer” view. It lights up the planet with people who are actively using the app (and therefore we can assume, praying.)
I’d like to see this same view with all the people praying in any format, in a community, in their car, in bed before going to sleep, in the morning before getting up, etc. I suspect the globe would be awash in light.
“We have no command to work and to pass the night in vigils and to fast constantly. However, we do have an obligation to ‘pray without ceasing.’” This quotation from Evagrius Ponticus (c. 345-399), is a good reflection of the belief of the early Christians about prayer. In the letters of St. Paul we frequently see the injunction to pray ceaselessly, as, for example in 1 Thessalonians 5:17(“Pray without ceasing”) and Romans 12:12 (“Be constant in prayer”), and Ephesians 6:18 (“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit”). In the Gospels themselves, Jesus emphasizes persistent prayer, as in Luke 18 where Jesus taught the disciples a parable “to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” These passages of Scripture were taken very seriously by the early Church and much discussion was given to this idea and how it could be achieved.” (Taken from Portsmouth Abbey website document here.)
Praying in community at St Clement of Rome on a cold January evening.