Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Habit of Prayer

In ages past, prayer was both a natural routine in a man's day as well as a refuge during moments of distress.

Today, most Western men have been robbed of their birthright. It is not so much that we do not know our prayers. Memorizing the Lord's Prayer, the Angelic Salutation or the Apostle's Creed requires but a few minutes of effort even for a man completely unfamiliar with them. Rather, it is that we have lost the habit, the instinct, for prayer.

Yet, we assure you that all is not lost. You need not despair that the habit of prayer is beyond you. Somewhere in Scripture, Saint Paul says that all men know God on some level, in some way. Even if you have never once said a prayer in your time on earth, you have indeed prayed. At innumerable moments in your life, when you have mourned or feared some terrible outcome or event, you have unknowingly reached out to the Lord with your sighs, with the groans of your spirit.

Even in empty, godless despair, you have spoken to Him.
Do not discount the value of these wordless supplications in the eyes of the Lord. They have kept you grounded in metaphysical reality, in the tacit understanding that this universe seems arbitrary and cruel and that you and yours live only by the grace of God.

How Else Might We Pray?

But there are other purposes to prayer outside of these spontaneous bursts of existential alarm. Otherwise, the Lord would not have taught a specific prayer to his apostles, nor would they have continued to mark the hours of the day with specific prayers.

Thus the church has always utilized a formal liturgy to recite prayers throughout the day, outside of those individual prayers which we send up to God in the form of brief verbal petitions or cries of anguish. These prayers are communal, shared by the brethren in company with one another or physically alone but in spiritual communion.

These prayers of the liturgy are an excellent treatment for the spiritual disease which has brought about a prayer famine in so many men's lives today. If you have been repelled from typical modern church settings by feminized environments and an infantile approach to worship, then this formal approach may be the ideal way to ease you into a fruitful life of prayer.

Why Should the Knights Pray Anyway?

It is easy today to discard prayer as a useless endeavor when there appears to be so much to do in the "real" world. Praying, from that perspective, might seem like a household chore that can wait while we keep the house from burning down.

However this viewpoint ignores the knowledge which we all possess about the present maladies of society: they do not truly stem from failures to fight communism or the proliferation of pornography and sexual perversion. Those things are but symptoms of the social malady which overtook Western civilization in the 20th century as men stopped worshiping God and began worshiping themselves.

In medicine, it is foolish and often futile to treat symptoms and not the root cause of those symptoms. Just so in the spiritual world. While there is great need for strong, virile men to stand up and fight today, there is a greater need for those men to realign their souls with God through proper worship and prayer.

That is why the Knights of the Resurrection have crafted their own divine office. They do not mean to disparage the liturgy that the church as a whole uses. Instead, these texts and prayers are meant to nourish a charism particular to men's needs today.

When to Pray 

The beauty of the divine office of the Knights of the Resurrection (DOKR) is in its flexible structure. It assigns hours to prayers but also allows for the interruptions of men who are, naturally, busy working to support themselves and their families.

The traditional divine office of the Church is organized similarly but with more assigned hours of prayer. The prayers of the DOKR are more limited in number and length because it is expected that knights are busy. In fact, only the prayers of Lauds, Vespers and Compline are required, though knights are strongly encouraged to pray Matins.
  • Matins
Traditionally, the hour of matins was prayed by monks in the middle of the night. They woke from their rest and prayed for long periods before returning to sleep before dawn came and they resumed prayers and heard mass.

This is an ideal but many knights may find it difficult to manage. Nevertheless, you may think of this opportunity to stand fire guard for your loved ones, rising from sleep to briefly pray and be alert to the voice of the Lord. 

If you cannot manage to pray at this time, try to at least read the scriptural passages from this hour at some free point during the day. They are specifically chosen from the Word of God to inspire you to lead a christian life.
  • Lauds
Pray this hour when you rise, at whatever time that you normally wake. It is best to rise early in the morning before sunrise. However, a man's need to work may interfere with this if he works nights or evenings. 

This is particularly complicated for a man who works nights and wakes in the afternoon. The knights recommend that you still pray lauds in the morning but you may appreciate praying this hour of the office when you actually wake. We leave it to each man to do as he sees fit, keeping always in mind that perfection is to be strived for even if it cannot be achieved. 

The prayers of Lauds and Vespers are chosen from martial episodes in scripture, so that a knight may see how a man of God deals with confrontation and conflict.
  • Vespers
A most excellent prayer of the Church. So excellent is it that many Protestant churches continue to recite these prayers and hymns, at least in Sunday evenings. Some call in evensong.

You should pray this hour of this DOKR when evening has come or when it is near. Make sure to keep it separate from the prayer of Compline.
  • Compline
A minor and more individual hour in most versions of the divine office, the hour of Compline holds great importance for the knights because the prayers are those passages from scripture which remind us of our mortality and God's greatness.

Where to Pray

The Lord warns us not to pray ostentatiously, making a show of our piety in public. The best place to pray will often be in private for a knight. Should he find himself working alongside another knight as the time of prayer arrives, by all means they should try to find a private place to pray together. However, in many situations, a knight will be physically alone when the time of prayer arrives.

When possible it would be good to pray these hours in a church, ideally in front of the body of Christ on the altar.

How to Pray

A knight is not restricted to the words given in the texts here. Those are the minimum which must be said. Petitions and requests for intercession are always allowed and recommended.

Instructions are given in each hour for how to posture oneself during prayer. Sometimes, there are options but it is important to remember that, no matter what the text seems to indicate, we ALWAYS stand for any gospel reading.
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