The Divine Hours

When I met Phyllis Tickle, author of The Divine Hours, several years ago at a conference, I asked her to sign my copy of Prayers for Springtime, which I had brought with me to the conference as part of my stack of prayer aids (Bible, etc.). I handed it to her with the words, "Thank you for your books. You have been more influential in my prayer life than anyone else, I think, with the possible exception of the brothers at the Abbey of Gethsemani" (she answered, "I am in good company, then").

It's true. The three volumes of Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours--Prayers for Springtime, Prayers for Summertime, and Prayers for Autumn and Wintertime--have guided my prayer life for almost ten years now. Each book is a manual for fixed-hour prayer, which has been practiced by followers of Jesus for centuries. The pattern and many of the prayers themselves are drawn from The Book of Common Prayer, but presented in a much more user-friendly format (and enlivened anew with new material from a wide range of contemplative works, poems, and hymns, such as "Pied Beauty," by Gerard Manley Hopkins, and "Take My Heart," by François Fénelon). It provides daily Morning Prayers, Midday Prayers, Vespers, and in a separate section, Compline, or evening prayers.

I cannot more highly recommend a book, nor a practice than the fixed-hour prayer The Divine Hours aids. Whether you use it four times a day or twice (my practice) or once, it will guide and deepen and inspire your prayer life. It will enable you, as Tickle says, to "pray with the church," the whole church, throughout history and around the world, as you unite with the people of God in praying the prayers of God's people through the centuries. It will plant in you the seeds of a prayer language, a way to express yourself at all times, even when you are praying in the car or in a line at the supermarket. The words, rhythms, cadences, and sentiments of these prayers will sink into your heart and soul and become to you a comfort and a strength. And they will enable you to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17), as you find the words (and perhaps even the tunes, if you learn to chant the prayers) returning to your mind over and over again.

Companion volumes (such as The Night Offices, The Divine Hours Pocket Edition, and a Christmastide volume) are also available, as well as ebook editions (which I use now when traveling).

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