Eric Sundquist's Reviews > Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals

Common Prayer by Shane Claiborne
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's review
Apr 23, 11

Read from March 11 to April 23, 2011

I engaged with this Common Prayer during Lent. While I did not make my goal of regular daily practice, I did spend time with it frequently enough to understand its rhythms.

Common Prayer guides followers through three prayer times each day. Morning Prayers are lengthy, including readings about saints and from Scripture, as well as call and response prayer. There is a Morning Prayer for each day of the year and special prayers for Holy Week. The same Midday Prayer is used every day to develop a rhythm and bring the divine to followers' minds. There is an Evening Prayer for each day of the week. Each Evening Prayer symbolizes death with the hope of resurrection the next morning.

I obviously could not participate in the full experience the book provides. Liturgy is meant to be a communal experience. It is also meant to be a regular practice, not something one sits down to read every day for a few weeks. If I were to understand what it is like to live in Common Prayer with others, I would need to make a discipline of meeting with others two or three times a daily on a regular basis for several months at least.

Because I was unable to experience what the book intends, it did not make any lasting impression on me. I truly believe that it could be a wonderful practice for followers, as I have had periods in my life in which I participated in a rich liturgical tradition of communal prayer throughout the day.

As compared to other books of prayer, this book (as one may expect, being authored by Shane Claiborne) focuses prayers on more progressive causes, such as child labor around the world, racial inequality, violence and warfare, abusive governments, etc. The focus on these subjects can be a reminder that prayer does not take place in an ethereal "spiritual" place concerned only with abstract concepts, nor does it occur only in first-world America where Jesus just wants you to be a nice person, but prayer takes place in a broken world yearning for redemption and healing.

For those seriously looking for a book to help guide in liturgy, this book would prove itself to be a solid choice. For those looking to read another pretty Shane Claiborne book and add it to your bookshelf, you might just wait until whatever comes out next.

This review originally posted on my blog:

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