A few years ago, a bunch of activist-types and a bunch of prayer-warriors got together to create a prayer book with the goal of bringing together the bible and the newspaper. We were all convinced that prayer and action cannot be divorced from each other, and that Jesus and justice have to kiss. So we formed a team of liturgy experts, church leaders, grassroots organizers, and justice activists… and we began plotting goodness together. After a long and expectant labor, we just gave birth to a little book and web resource called Common Prayer
Common Prayer is a book for folks who love God and want to make the world a better place. Whether you are over-churched or under-churched, a proud evangelical, a recovering evangelical, or not evangelical at all; whether you are high-church, low-church, or no-church, a skeptic or a Pentecostal; whether you are a political activist, political agnostic, or a political misfit; whether you have found a community or have burnt out on community… we had you in mind as we created Common Prayer.
Common Prayer is a tool to help the whole church pray together.
It’s for families to use together, for small groups, even for whole congregations. It’s for students to use in their dorms and for co-workers to gather around on a break at work. We hope that this little project will help communities, non-profits, movements, and ministries breathe together as one… knowing that we can do more together than we can on our own.
There are morning prayers for each day of the year where we look at “This Day in History” and remember landmark events like Rwanda’s Genocide, Mandela’s release from prison, the bombing of Nagasaki, the assassination of Oscar Romero. It is a way of remembering history together—both the glimpses of heaven that we want to celebrate and the terrible things we dare not forget.
Common Prayer also has a midday prayer folks can pray together at work or school, simple enough to memorize. And there are evening prayers for each night of the week so families and small groups can say goodnight to God and to each other. Throughout the book we recommend books and films, and suggest some holy habits to try out. And the whole thing is sprinkled with original artwork, new icons for a new day.
Common Prayer is also about discovering new heroes—not just applauding folks who have died in wars but celebrating people who have lived for God and suffered for goodness. We list a hundred or so “saints” throughout the year, reminding us of some of the heroes (and she-roes!) of the faith. And just because hymnals are in danger of extinction doesn’t mean we should stop singing. We’ve complied about 50 of the Greatest Hits of the Church from the centuries and put them into a little songbook, where you will find old spirituals and freedom songs, classic hymns and sing-a-longs, Taize chants and timeless benedictions. We’re not just talking about classic 80s CCM but stuff that’s from the 800s, songs and prayers that have lasted through the centuries.
In the past two months, we’ve heard from thousands of folks around the world who’ve begun praying together with Common Prayer. It’s a delight to imagine sisters and brothers echoing one another’s voices all around the globe, asking to become the answer to the prayer Jesus taught us to pray. One of our favorite notes came from a woman who said she’d begun using Common Prayer every morning and was excitedly telling friends at her church about it. Overhearing, someone she didn’t know very well said, “Really! You too!” Now they get together before work each morning and say the office together.
May the revolution continue—in our churches and in our world. And may we become the answer to our prayers.
Shane Claiborne is a prominent author, speaker and activist. He is one of the founding members of the Simple Way in Philadelphia, PA and is also helping develop a network called Friends Without Borders which creates opportunities for folks to come together and work together for justice from around the world.
Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove is the author of The Wisdom of Stability: Rooting Faith in a Mobile Culture. He is an author, speaker, and activist who currently resides in Raleigh, NC at the Rutba House. You can reach him at his website, www.jonathanwilsonhartgrove.com