Spiritual Growth Moment ~ August 1st, 2021
The Book of Common Prayer
by Erin Becker
I grew up in the Presbyterian church, with a hint of Southern Baptist thrown in thanks to my family’s monthly visits to stay with our grandparents growing up. As I grew up and saw more of the world, I slowly came to realize that some things about those denominations didn’t fit with who I know God to be. I was fortunate, that my mother was going through a similar journey and together we visited an Episcopal church for the first time in 2015. The tenet of “all may, some should, none must” resonated with both of us.
While I immediately loved some things about the Episcopal church, there were other things I didn’t quite get. A big thing for me to get used to was the use of The Book of Common Prayer. I had grown up used to having a typical order of service and free-form prayers. There was nothing quite so rigid or regimented. I appreciated the tradition of it but something about praying with someone else’s words was not resonating with me.
This spring, I made the decision to be confirmed and took the time to truly explore what it means to be Episcopalian. Rev. Chris lead a small group of adults through Walk in Love and it answered a lot of my “why do we do that” questions. My big aha moment where I knew I was in the right place came in our second session, The Book of Common Prayer. An answer to my question of “why should I pray with someone else’s words” came and it was more profound than I had expected. The Book of Common Prayer wasn’t intended to be “common” in the rote or mundane sense of the word, but rather the unifying and community-based sense. The intent of our routine isn’t just because that’s the way it’s always been done, but rather any Episcopalian anywhere on the globe can come to worship and can understand what’s happening in the service regardless of what language they speak.
The intent of The Book of Common Prayer isn’t to define how we must pray. It is to help make certain that no matter where we go, we are assured that we are a part of God’s larger family. To me, that is profoundly wonderful.