In Constant Prayer (The Ancient Practices)

by Robert Benson

Other authorsPhyllis Tickle (Foreword)
Hardcover, 2008





What does it mean to pray without ceasing? Is it really that important to pray as the early Church did? In this installment of The Ancient Practices series, Robert Benson presents a structure for our lives where we can live in continued awareness of God's presence and reality. A pattern for worship and prayer that is offered to God at specific times throughout the day, the daily office is meant to be prayed by all the faithful so the Church may be continuous and God's work in this world may be sustained. Yet it is highly personal too--an anchor between the daily and the divine, the mundane and the marvelous. Says author Robert Benson, "At some point, high-minded discussion about our life of prayer has to work its way into the dailyness of our lives. At some point, we have to move from talking about prayer to saying our prayers so that the marvelous that is possible has a chance to appear." In Constant Prayer is your gateway to deeper communion with God. Expect something new to unfold before you and within you while heeding this ancient call. The Ancient Practices There is a hunger in every human heart for connection, primitive and raw, to God. To satisfy it, many are beginning to explore traditional spiritual disciplines used for centuries . . . everything from fixed-hour prayer to fasting to sincere observance of the Sabbath. Compelling and readable, the Ancient Practices series is for every spiritual sojourner, for every Christian seeker who wants more.… (more)


Thomas Nelson Inc (2008), 165 pages

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½ (21 ratings; 3.8)

User reviews

LibraryThing member moses917
“In Constant Prayer” by Robert Benson is the second in a series by a various different authors call The Ancient Practices Series being edited by Phyllis Tickle for Thomas Nelson Publishers. Benson focuses on the practice of saying the “Daily Office,” a formal series of prayers said at
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several times during the day. As Tickle states, this is the practice “of interrupting secular time every three hours for the observance of worship time made sacred by prayer.” This is a gently prayerful introduction to liturgical prayer.

Benson argues that the daily offices were practiced first by the Israelites and then by the early Christians, since early Christendom was mostly of Jewish origin. Paul does tell us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to pray without ceasing…or never stop praying. He suggests we follow their lead and structure for our lives so that we can be in continuous contact with God on a daily basis. While it prayer doesn’t come natural to us, developing this discipline goes a long way to further our spiritual growth and relationship with God.

According to Benson It never was supposed to be just for monks, deacons and priests: we are all supposed to be participating in the prayer that the Body of Christ (that would be us) offers to the Father. Believe it or not, for about a thousand years, everyone was expected to come to Church daily for Morning Prayer: it was part of being a believer! That started getting lost at the time of the Renaissance; the Reformation finished the job in many places. Also mentioned in the book is how personal prayer does not dismiss you from corporate prayer. Benson offers this rebuke concerning the prayer life of ancient Christendom that we have the witness of those who went before us to show us we can prayer throughout the day. We just don’t do it. He also makes good mention that you do not become a person of prayer and then begin to pray. It works the other way around. If you say enough prayers, you may become a person of prayer. But you will not become if you do not pray.

I must confess though that prior to reading the book; I knew almost absolutely nothing about the Daily Office. The author states this is not a book for everyone – I certainly agree. The target audience appears to be Christians like me who are outside the liturgical system. Benson does a fair job of explaining the practice, especially the history of fixed hour prayer and the reasons why this practice should continue in our modern world. He shows the beauty of praying of the same prayers that others throughout the world are doing at the same time.

The book is laid out in a readable and simple format. First he describes what the daily offices are, then details to practice them. The rest of the book is Benson’s successes and failures in practicing the daily offices. I enjoyed that he also includes an example of the Daily Office in an appendix in the book. Having never read it before, I found it helpful. Benson emphasizes that he is not a theologian and certainly does not have all the answers. He is a writer and a seeker. As such, I think that many will relate to his spiritual journey. The book is a very insightful work. Whether or not it convinces you to begin praying the “Daily Office,” it will help you realize the value of punctuating one’s day with frequent prayer.
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LibraryThing member StephenBarkley
This is a beautiful book. It's not too technical, too profound, or too spiritual: it's the perfect little volume for anyone considering liturgical prayer for the first time.

Like C. S. Lewis, Benson has a knack for finding the right anecdote to illustrate his point every time. Nothing is flippant or
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out of place. His prose isn't preachy, but it still manages to leave you motivated to pray. This book, like the form of prayer it espouses, is beautiful.

If you're looking for an introduction to the practice of praying the daily offices, this is an excellent primer. You'll need to buy a prayer book to go with it—I'd recommend Tickle's The Divine Hours to begin.
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LibraryThing member deusvitae
A wandering yet personal discussion of the praying of the hours/divine office.

Despite growing up in Protestantism (Wesleyanism?), the author has (apparently somewhat intermittently) been praying some versions of the hours for some time. He discusses the challenges he experiences along with the
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benefits he perceives.

The author does well at showing that praying the hours need not be lifeless ritual but can provide a discipline and guidelines for constant prayer in life. He provides many examples when praying the hours has led to spiritual growth in some way or another.

The book is light on the technicalities-- while the author does go through a "typical" office (presented in Appendix A), and a helpful glossary at the back, he doesn't otherwise delve into the various processes and details of the divine office.

Nevertheless, an easily accessible introduction to the ancient discipline of the divine office.
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LibraryThing member Jason_Hess
I read this book a few years ago and it continues to have a lasting impact on my life. This book was the means in which I discovered the strength and beauty of praying the daily office. It helped me see the significance of joining in the stream that flows from ancient times and will continue on
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until the end. I am not the body, we are the body. So may we join together with the countless multitudes who have prayed the daily office throughout their lives. Talk about praying in unity.
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LibraryThing member KathyBrandt
In this book the author continually refers to the "daily office," but doesn't explain what this is until chapter three. A single office is a single hour of prayer, following the prayer structure of the early church, which is pretty complex. In the old church this would happen seven times per day.
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In more current times this would happen morning, noon and night. For most of us, we would be lucky to incorporate this into our busy lives morning and night.

The author does a good job with explaining things in the book in a down to earth manner. He has some good stories he tells, but I wasn't sure where he was going with them at times.

If you have never heard of the "daily office" before, read this book to learn more about it.

I am on a prayer journey of my own...I want to learn how to prayer properly, if there is such a thing. I enjoyed reading this book, but don't feel it will be incorporated into my prayer journey. I don't think I need to do the "daily office" to be able to talk to God.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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