Daily Prayer in the Reformed Tradition: An Initial Survey

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Joint Liturgical Studies 35

The churches of the Reformed tradition have, from their beginning, observed daily prayer in church and home, offering the sacrifice of praise to God the Father through Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit, in obedience to the apostolic injunction, ‘pray without ceasing.’ In the communities of public assembly, family, husband and wife, and the individual in God’s presence, they have prayed as members of the body of Christ.

The Reformers and later Reformed ministers scrutinized their late medieval inheritance (already undergoing change), criticizing and reforming many practices. Concerns were for active, spiritual worship as opposed to rote or mechanical devotion, intelligibility (beginning with the use of the vernacular), accessibility by all to the means of grace, and insistence on integrity and ethical conduct, with special concern for charity, both in affection and deed, for the needy, sick and poor, the face of Christ visible in one’s suffering neighbour.’

At the same time, much medieval devotional practice was continued with little if any change, in such areas as fasting, meditation, the gestures of reverence, and devotional readings and prayers. The Reformed sought a return to Christian origins through reference to the life of the primitive and early church. Countless treatises and prayer manuals document biblical and patristic precedent for virtually every aspect of religious life.

Diane Karay Tripp