Book of Common Prayer 2019: Introduction and Highlights for Spiritual Formation

Book of Common Prayer 2019: Introduction and Highlights for Spiritual Formation

Book of Common Prayer

This article is cross-posted from the Fall 2019 issue of Trinity Magazine.

As the Anglican Church in North America gathered in Assembly in June in Plano, Texas, one highlight moment was the dedication of the Book of Common Prayer 2019 [BCP 2019]. Our new Prayer Book is elegant, flexible, thoroughly Anglican, and devotionally rich.

The Book of Common Prayer 2019 is intended for both personal (individual and family) and corporate (parochial and diocesan) use. Here are some of the remarkable resources that the Prayer Book offers for our spiritual formation:

  • Individuals, families, and congregations can use the Daily Office (Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline) as a form of daily prayer year-round (its ultimate intent) or as an intermittent resource (i.e. during season such as Advent, Lent, and Easter). Family Prayer is a greatly abbreviated form of Daily Office intended to introduce young children to the rhythms of daily prayer. It can also be useful for folks new to the faith or just coming into the Anglican tradition.

  • BCP 2019 invites us to pray through the Psalms on a 30 or 60 day cycle. It’s interesting to note that Billy Graham (and many others) were committed to praying through the Psalms every month.

  • At the heart of the Anglican devotion is the reading of Scripture. In the Lectionary, the new Prayer Book provides a way of reading through the vast majority of the Bible every year (or every 2 years).

  • A great tool of spiritual formation is the “Calendar of Holy Days and Commemorations.” This Calendar both reminds us of the key events in the life of Jesus and calls our attention to notable examples of godliness. When you come across a saint you don’t know, look her or him up online. Knowing the stories of our spiritual aunts and uncles gives us reference points for how to walk with Jesus.

  • A particularly rich part of BCP 2019 is the collection of prayers in the section “Collects and Occasional Prayers.” We have prayers for every week, prayers for special days, prayers for a wide variety of occasions and prayers for personal devotion. These profound prayers give us words for so many of our spiritual longings.

  • When it comes to Eucharistic liturgies, BCP 2019 is very flexible. A congregation can choose to pick one of the two liturgies (Anglican Standard and Renewed Ancient) and use it as is. Or a congregation may choose to craft a service using elements (i.e. confession/ absolution, prayers of the people) from both liturgies (and Daily Office).

  • BCP 2019 provides rites for baptism and confirmation that make clear both the Good News of God’s work and what working out our “salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12) means.

While I wholeheartedly commend the new Prayer Book, I also recognize that some folks will have some concerns. Since the ACNA has embraced a broad spectrum of Anglican expression (Low Church, High Church; Evangelical, Anglo-Catholic, Charismatic), our new Prayer Book reflects our diversity. Some will find it “too Catholic,” others “too Evangelical;” wishing that it was more fully aligned with their part of the Anglican spectrum. That’s fine. We will have honest and civil conversations about our theological distinctions within the broader context of our agreement in the essentials of the “faith once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).

If you want to download BCP 2019, buy it, discover resources that have been developed for congregations, or are interested in learning more about its background and development, visit the ACNA website.

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