Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Praying the Hours

More than a year ago I posted some thoughts on the concept of time and its Christian observance. I have had to set it aside as I go through the long process of ordination in the PCA (which, God willing, will end in February with a positive outcome). But I came across something in my reading the other day that I thought I would post here.

In my Presbyterian context, such high liturgy as praying the hours is looked upon by some with a bit of suspicion. Perhaps it doesn't help that I come from a broad background, so I will be suspect for a few years anyway. :^) But I was a bit tickled to find this quote:

But, although it has already been stated above that, lifting up our hearts, we should ever aspire to God and pray without ceasing, still, since our weakness is such that it has to be supported by many aids, and our sluggishness such that it needs to be goaded, it is fitting each one of us should set apart certain hours for this exercise. Those hours should not pass without prayer, and during them all the devotion of the heart should be completely engaged in it. These are: when we arise in the morning, before we begin daily work, when we sit down to a meal, when by God's blessing we have eaten, when we are getting ready to retire.

But this must not be any superstitious observance of hours, whereby, as if paying our debt to God, we imagine ourselves paid up for the remaining hours. Rather, it must be a tutelage for our weakness, which should be thus exercised and repeatedly stimulated.
And who should be the author of such sweet thoughts? None other than John Calvin, Institutes, Book III, chapter 20, section 50 (Battles trans.). I just love it when I find a Calvin quote to support my high church impulses. Now if I could just find a source establishing the practice of midnight Christmas eve services in Calvin's Geneva...hmmm...

1 comment:

About Janice said...

Awesome. Let us know if you find support for those midnight Christmas eve services!