About Daily Prayer
In 1647, our Scottish Presbyterian fathers wrote:
Besides the public worship in congregations..., it is expedient and necessary that secret worship of each person alone, and private worship of families be pressed and set up.... For secret worship, it is most necessary that everyone, apart and by themselves, be given to prayer and meditation..., this being the means whereby, in a special way, communion with God is [maintained], and right preparation for all other duties obtained.
Daily prayer has always played an important part in the lives of believers, from the Old Testament Church (think of Daniel and the lions' den, for instance) down to today. While corporate worship on the Lord's Day is commanded, daily worship by individuals and families has been assumed and practiced also. Since the Reformation, daily prayer, morning and evening, has been practiced among Protestants of all sorts, including Presbyterians. The services we follow are in line with the most ancient traditions of the Church.
It's unfortunate that many believers think of prayer as a burden, something to be gotten through so that they can get on with the really important things of life. It's true that prayer can be hard work. Praying requires us to be quiet, to stop our own strivings and know that the Lord is God. Thus, as Calvin says, prayer is the chief act of faith, because prayer requires us to leave off our own efforts and admit that we are neither all powerful nor in control of things, but that God is. For this reason, prayer is called a spiritual discipline: we have to learn how to pray.
But what does that mean, to learn how to pray?
In Luke 11:1, after seeing Jesus pray, one of his disciples asked of him, Lord, teach us to pray. It's wasn't as though this man, a faithful life-long Jew, a child of the synagogue, didn't know the mechanics of prayer. He'd been praying all his life. What, then, was he doing? Having watched Jesus pray, he was recognizing his own weakingness in prayer, admitting that he needed to learn to pray better.
In the discipline of morning and evening prayer, we learn to pray better; we learn to live by faith better, waiting patiently on God, resting more and more in Christ alone. With Christ in his school of prayer, our attitudes, our thoughts, and our desires are bit by bit being shaped into the likeness of Christ. This is pleasing to our Father in heaven.
Another reason we find it hard to pray, perhaps, is that we don't recognize what a stupendous gift we've been given in our freedom to approach the Almighty God. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, Hebrews 4:16 says. God's invitation to pray is so much more than an opportunity to recite a list of needs and wants. It is an invitation to enter into the central mystery of our salvation, our free fellowship with God in Christ.
That is the greatest blessing of our salvation, the one from which all the other blessings flow—our union and communion with God. When the baptized and believing people of God pray, either privately or corporately, we enter into—we experience—the inner life of the Triune God. In prayer we experience the reality that Jesus presents us to the Father as we participate—humbly, wonderingly, joyfully, sometimes painfully—through the Spirit. At the right hand of God our Father, at this very moment, Jesus our Elder Brother is praying on our behalf. And whenever we pray, the Spirit is helping us, even as Jesus is perfecting our prayers and presenting them to the Father. Through the true divinity and true humanity of Jesus, our perfect Mediator, we are able freely to commune with God in prayer. Indeed, we can say that our life of faith is summed up in prayer to the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost.
You can find the Daily Prayer Services here.