May 7th is National Day of Prayer. Looking at my book shelf, you'd think prayer was a central part of my life. I own seven prayer books. The prayer book I received at confirmation, signed by the bishop, the one I bought in England at Canterbury, a prayer book printed in 1868, and a few others.
The Book of Common Prayer has been a central part of my prayer life for as long as I have been praying. Sunday mornings we would open the red books in our pew pockets to page 355, and begin our common prayer. Today, it is also central to my personal prayer life, though I no longer pray often.
As my doubts have grown and my faith has changed, it has been more difficult to pray. I have trouble conjuring the image of God as a close friend with whom I could hold conversations throughout the day, the way I once did. Still, often in the mornings, I grab my prayer book and say the morning prayer for individuals. It's short, but it centers me. I repeat the Lord's Prayer like a mantra, and take a few minutes of silence to center myself and try to listen to God. It's all I can manage at the moment.
I don't know if would pray at all if it weren't for the prayer book. It's a guide for my prayers, and a tool for my faith. The words of the Book of Common Prayer, are a joy on Sunday mornings, and a comfort on nights when I am, in the words of the BCP, "wearied by the changes and chances of this life."