“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” Philippians 4:6
Contemplative, active, liturgical, corporate, family, individual—Presbyterians are people of prayer. Believing that God earnestly seeks communion with us, we listen to the Apostle Paul and “pray without ceasing” throughout the activities of our days. Below are links to some of the many, many resources for cultivating a life of Christian mindfulness and prayer, drawn from Presbyterian and other traditions.
Resources for cultivating a rhythm of daily prayer and devotions
- “Daily Prayer” is both a term Presbyterians use to describe daily devotions and a printed resource for doing so. Mindful of the ancient Christian tradition of stopping for prayer and worship at set hours during the day, Daily Prayer offers resources for morning, mid-day, and evening prayer. A sample outline for daily prayer can be found at http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/missionyearbook/outline-daily-prayer/
The print resource, Daily Prayer, can be found within the Book of Common Worship of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. and as a separately-published, portable small volume (titled Book of Common Worship – Daily Prayer). Both are available through the Church Store at the PC(USA) website http://store.pcusa.org/ and other retailers.
- The Mission Yearbook for Prayer and Study was begun by women in the Presbyterian Church over a hundred years ago as a way to pray daily for missionaries and church workers and countries around the world. It is available in print through many churches, presbyteries, and the Church Store at the PC(USA) website http://store.pcusa.org/. It is also available as a daily RSS feed to which one can subscribe at http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/missionyearbook/.
Let these words from the dedication page for the very first Mission Year Book (published in 1896) continue to inspire us:
“Let us keep this Year Book of Prayer with the Book that holds the sure word of promise, in the place where each day we go to meet our Lord and to commune with Him. Let us pour out our hearts in gratitude that He has called us to aid Him in the work of extending His kingdom; let us plead earnestly for the dear ones whose names and work are designated. So will our faith grow brighter, our love more intense and we shall realize the blessedness of the tie that binds our hearts in love to Christ.”
Daily Feast is a new print resource of inspirational reflections, responses, and prayers for each day of the lectionary year. Based on the lectionary study series, Feasting on the Word, the first volume in the series (for Year B in the weekly lectionary) was released in the fall of 2011, and is available through the Church Store of the PC(USA) (www.store.pcusa.org ) and other retailers. Look for the title, Daily Feast: Meditations from Feasting on the Word, Year B, edited by Elizabeth Caldwell and Kathleen Bostrom.
- d365.org is an online resource for daily prayer and devotions, developed particularly to speak to today’s students and young adults. Appealing to a wide range of Christians, the site offers daily scripture, music, and reflections that follow the cycle of the church year. d365.org is sponsored by the PCUSA, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, and the Episcopal Church. Go to www.d365.org.
- Hungry Hearts is a quarterly journal of the Office of Theology, Worship and Education of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. Hungry Hearts was produced in print for many years, and now is in the process of converting to an online journal. Archives of some of the outstanding printed issues are available online at http://gamc.pcusa.org/browse/resources-resource/ministries/spiritualformation/.
Several articles from past journals, including ones on “Thomas Merton: Contemplative in Action,” “Communal Discernment: Choosing with God in Community,” and “The Early Church Finds Its Way: Discernment in the Book of Acts,” can be downloaded from http://gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/spiritualformation/hungryhearts/
- The Upper Room www.upperroom.org is a division of the General Board of Discipleship of the United Methodist Church, based in Nashville, Tennessee. Over many years, they have developed a rich variety of prayer and devotional resources for all ages, available by subscription through their website. Each resource also has a webpage.
The Upper Room – daily devotional published six times a year
devozine – designed for youth 14-19 years old, published six times a year
Alive Now – for adults hungry for a sacred way of living, published six times a year
Pockets – for children and families, published six times a year
Weavings – a quarterly journal of the Christian spiritual life
Resources for enriching worship, prayer, and preaching in congregations
- The Presbyterian Hymnal, published in 1990 by Westminster/John Knox Press, is used in thousands of PCUSA congregations. One congregation, the St. James Presbyterian Church of Chicago, has developed a website called “Title to Tune in the Presbyterian Hymnal,” through which most of the 500+ hymns found in The Presbyterian Hymnal can be heard through links to online hymn-tune libraries. To use “Title to Tune,” go to http://www.stjameschicago.org/hymnal/ The 1990 Presbyterian Hymnal is no longer being published by W/JKP, but may be found through discount book retailers.
In 2013, a new Presbyterian hymnal, Glory to God, will be published, both in print and electronic versions. Pre-publication orders can now be placed at a significant discount. Extensive information about the new hymnal can be found at http://www.presbyterianhymnal.org/, including plans for the electronic version and a sampler of hymns.
- The Book of Common Worship, published by Westminster/John Knox Press, provides suggested orders of worship and liturgical texts for each Sunday, festival, and season of the year, and includes liturgies for the Sacraments of the Lord's Supper, Baptism, daily prayer, marriage, funeral, and various pastoral circumstances. It also includes the Psalms, the weekly ecumenical lectionary and the daily lectionary, and a collection of prayers for a variety of uses. The Book of Common Worship is available as a .pdf download for $ 10 at http://store.pcusa.org/9780664219918 , or in print for purchase through the Church Store at the PC(USA) website http://store.pcusa.org/ and other retailers.
- The Directory for Worship is one of four constitutional documents within the Book of Order of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), providing a theological and biblical framework for worship in the Presbyterian and Reformed tradition. As such, it is valuable for study and discussion within worship committees and sessions, music and leadership teams in local congregations. The Book of Order 2011-2013 is available as a free download at http://store.pcusa.org/OGA11010 , or for purchase in print at http://store.pcusa.org/OGA11001
From the Preface to the Directory for Worship: “A Directory for Worship is not a service book with fixed orders of worship, a collection of prayers and rituals, or a program guide. Rather…this directory suggests possibilities for worship, invites development in worship, and encourages continuing reform of worship. It sets standards and presents norms for the conduct of worship in the life of congregations and the councils of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).”
- Call to Worship is a quarterly journal for the planning of worship produced by the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, and is available through subscription, both in print and online at http://store.pcusa.org/CTW/ Each year, lectionary worship aids are published in the journal. In 2012, PAM has also produced an “on demand” webinar (available for $25) to introduce and guide worship planners through the lectionary texts of Year B of the Revised Common Lectionary. Go to http://presbymusic.org/WebinarRCL.html
- Reformed Worship is a quarterly worship and music planning journal published by Faith Alive Christian Resources, a publishing arm of the Christian Reformed Church in North America. Each of the four issues includes articles and resources for enriching worship for one of the seasons of the church year: The September issue features resources for Advent and Christmas, December focuses on Lent and Easter, March on Ascension and Pentecost, and the June issue considers a special theme (children in worship, prayer, weddings, the Lord’s Supper). For more information or to subscribe, go to www.reformedworship.org
- The Calvin Institute of Christian Worship http://worship.calvin.edu/ is located at Calvin College and Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1997 and supported by grants from the Lilly Endowment, it is an interdisciplinary study and ministry center that promotes the scholarly study of the theology, history, and practice of Christian worship, and the renewal of worship in worshiping communities.
Along with the Center for Excellence in Preaching http://cep.calvinseminary.edu/, CICW sponsors a Worship Symposium that attracts pastors, worship leaders and planners, artists, musicians, scholars, and students every January. In addition, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship offers Worship Renewal Grants available to local congregations.
The Worship Sourcebook is an edited compilation of over 2,500 prayers, litanies, and spoken texts for every element of the worship service throughout the seasons of the church year. It includes texts that can be read aloud as well as outlines that can be adapted for various situations. Teaching notes offer guidance for planning each element of the service. The companion CD contains the entire text of the book for easy cutting and pasting into bulletins, PowerPoint slides, orders of worship, and more. The Worship Sourcebook can be purchased through Faith Alive Resources of Grand Rapids http://www.faithaliveresources.org/ and other retailers.
WorkingPreacher.org is a free, lectionary-based website for preachers sponsored by the Center for Biblical Preaching at Lutheran Seminary, St. Paul, Minnesota. Supported by the homiletics and Bible faculty of Luther Seminary, The Center for Biblical Preaching is committed to the lifelong learning of preachers, and offers a variety of educational events and resources that strengthen and sustain preachers in their craft and calling. Extensive information about the Center can be found at www.luthersem.edu/cbp/