It has been quite a long time since I’ve posted the weekly times of solitude. Fortunately, I have finished writing the three year material. Year one was a generic “through-the-Bible” format, year two was the first covenant or Hebrew scriptures and year three is the second covenant or New Testament scriptures.
A word about format: I do not follow specifically the Christian calendar (as useful as that is). Nor do I begin with “Sunday”. Instead I follow a pragmatic “work calendar” approach of Monday-Friday. The first week begins with the first Monday of the New year (January 4, 2016). I hope purists will forgive me on this point. I am being rather untraditional with this format. I wanted to offer something for those who are completely unfamiliar with the Christian calendar so as to be less confusing. People who do not follow a “high church” or “liturgical” tradition (or no tradition at all) would not be particularly aware of the Christian calendar of Advent, Lent, Resurrection Sunday, Pentecost, etc.
Hopefully this will be helpful.
If you feel the need to follow the Christian calendar then I would highly recommend A Guide To Prayer For All Who Seek God or A Guide to Prayer for Ministers & Other Servants both by Rueben Job and Norman Shawchuck (The Upper Room), or any of Phyllis Tickle’s wonderful books (The Divine Hours Volumes 1, 2, & 3) including the simplified The Divine Hours Pocket Edition (Oxford University Press).
This weekly guide is built around what are called the four offices: Morning (or terce), Noon/Midday (sext), Vespers (early evening), and Night (compline). These come from an ancient tradition that enables people to develop the practice of what Paul calls prayer without ceasing. I believe that before one can enter into such a continuous prayer, one needs to first of all pray–and more than just once a day. Only then can the habit of continuous prayer develop.
During Preparation I recommend getting your heart, soul, and body in position to enter into solitude. Chose the most effective time of day for you and select one particular place where you are least likely to be disturbed.
I highly recommend you memorize the two Psalms (130 & 131). The latter is quite easy to memorize since it only consists of three verses. Psalm 131 is quite effective in centering one’s mind and quieting the heart. I sing Psalm 130 as a chant and then quietly recite 131 several times allowing the psalmist’s words become my own.
Following the recitations, I spend at least sixty seconds in silence.
The rest of the outline is quite simple to follow (you will see when you access week one).
I hope this weekly attempt of mine will prove useful for you as you seek to deepen your meditation on God’s scriptures and your prayer life.
Blessings and peace for the New Year!