Creating a Personal Breviary
For nearly forty years, I've been working on my own personal breviary. For those not familiar with the term, a breviary is a book (or collection) of prayers, hymns, psalms, and meditations intended for use during the canonical hours of prayer. Some breviaries are relatively fixed, meaning they don't change much; some aren't. Mine has a fixed core but includes multiple appendages that are constantly expanding (see below). Some breviaries are memorized by those who use them; some aren't. Mine is.
As I wrote above, I've been working on mine for almost forty years. The cool thing about it is I know I'll never complete it. Why? Because it's a living, breathing collection that, over time, changes, expands, and simplifies as I myself change, expand, and become progressively more minimalized.
Below, is a snippet from my breviary, which I call Afternoon Prayer (AP). I pray AP on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays sometime between 2 and 4pm. AP is a part of my own personal canonical hours of prayer, which I've created for myself to guide my daily sessions of prayer and meditation. The time variability is by design as it gives me flexibility to acomodate afternoon training clients. [Note: In future posts, I'll share more from my breviary. I've had many requests over the years to put the whole thing into writing. For those who've been waiting for me to do so, well, I'm beginning the process now. Significant portions of it exist in written form already—I just need to find them and pull them all together! Once I've completed the written compilation, I'll make it available on templemartialartstraining.com.]
Provided below, is my "Horarium," or daily schedule of hourly prayer. Below that, is the current content of my practice of AP.
0300 (several hours long): Morning Prayer ("The Our Father," "Dear Father," "Wellness Meditation," "My Resistance," "The Heavens Declare the Glory," "Pre-Shower Meditation," "The Morning Psalter," "Radical Acceptance," "The Jesus Prayer," and "I Have Tied Myself to the Master")
Between 0930 and 1030 (about ten minutes long): Mid-morning Prayer
Between 1200 and 1300 (about ten minutes long): Midday Prayer
Between 1400 and 1600 (about ten minutes long): Afternoon Prayer
1800 (about ten minutes long): The Evening Psalter
1945 (about ten minutes long): Evensong
2030 (about ten minutes long): Good Night, Daddy
My Current Content for My Practice of Afternoon Prayer
[I begin by praying the following string of prayers all the way through three times.]
Father...I want to walk before you in holiness, humility, purity, goodness, justice, faithfulness, and loving-kindness, and in presentness, paschal rhythm, equanimity, wholeness, mastery, gladness, prayerfulness, and thankfulness all the days of my life.
Father...I want to walk before you in holiness, humility, and purity of heart all the days of my life.
Holy Father...Please eradicate from my life all traces of pride, lust, greed, gluttony, envy, bitterness, and deceitfulness.
Holy Father...Please heal me on the inside; and, as You do, please help me to reconnect with my prayerful, tender-hearted, and somewhat mischievous sense of humor.
Dear Father...Help me to do the right thing every time and in every situation.
Dear Father...circumcise my sexuality, As painful as it might feel at times, cut away that which doesn't belong, that which isn't me, that which isn't of You. Dear Father...set apart my sexuality for Your Holy and righteous Purposes. Oh God...may it be Blessed by You and, to the praise of Your Glory, expressed, in and through me, lovingly, genuinely, and generatively. In the Name of Jesus, I ask these things.
[After completing the above, I recite meditatively the following Scripture passage three times.]
Submit to God and be at peace with Him; this is how prosperity will come to you.
Accept instruction from His Mouth, and lay up His Words in your heart.
If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored.
Remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines—do this, and the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest silver for you.
Surely then you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God.
You will pray to Him, and He will hear you, and you will fulfill your vows.
What you decide on will be done, and Light will shine on your ways.
When men are brought low, and you say "Lift them up!" the Almighty will save the downcast. He will rescue even one who is not innocent through the cleanness of your hands.
[I conclude my time of AP with reciting the the following meditations all the way through three times.]
The JSD (Jiin Senshi Do) Ethos...
For freedom's sake, I punish myself in training drive fear from my heart, and empty myself out before God. Like a rescue swimmer, I brave the deep so others may live.
The JSD Motto...
Semper paratus..."Ever prepared..."
Semper fidelis..."Ever faithful..."
Semper volens..."Ever willing..."
De oppresso liber..."To find and free the oppressed...(having been found and freed myself)"
OOO-rah! "Godspeed! God-willing! Good hunting!"
A Word of Explanation about Prayerful Repetition
Over the years, a few have criticized me (at least initially) for pursuing prayer practices that emphasize praying and reciting the same things over and over again.
"Isn't that just mindless repetition?" (That's actually a really good question.)
"It could result in that," I've said (without sarcasm). "But I don't let it devolve into that. I engage in mindful repetition, where I stay very present with each word as I speak it. I also pray and recite things that have deep and, often, life-long meaning to me. I've been doing it daily for more than three dacades, and I never grow weary of it. It is my joy and strength. Echoing the psalmist in Ps 119:72 and the prophet in Pr 4:20-27, my personal breviary (and the renewal it brings) has become the very health and wealth of my life."
Through mindful repetition, I tell God exactly what I want.
For example, when I tell God over and over how I want to walk before Him in holiness, humility, and purity of heart all the days of my life, I mean just that—that I desire desperately to live such ways every day, all day, for the rest of my life. In telling Him what I want, I'm asking Him, too, to help me live such things out in greater measure. Similarly, when I recite the above JSD Ethos, I'm instructing myself (over and over again) in the exact whats and whys of my approach to life. Such vocalizations feed my heart (my subconscious, my instincts, my bottom-up thought processes). In my life, this practice has been nothing but revolutionary.
Doing the same things over and over and in the same ways is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, depending on what it is, I believe the opposite to be true. I've been drinking seven to eight glasses of water every day for a long time, and I've experienced nothing but good things from that. Also, I eat five to six small meals every day, and I go to sleep in the same bed and at about the same time every night. Again, like brushing and flossing after meals, I've found such practices to be nothing but beneficial.
The majority of life is lived rhythmically, meaning, most of it is repeated over and over, day after day, year after year. A cool thing about all this is that having an order to ones life, paradoxically, creates significant space for death and rebirth, spontaneous humor, novitiate enthusiasm, and world-changing inventiveness. In my limited experience, this all seems very healthy, human, and godlike. Even if you don't agree with me, I'd love to know your thoughts on all this. Feel free to comment on this post or to email me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org. Regarding every post and everything on this website, your comments are always welcomed.
Peace to you, friends...
IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):
Mondays: Meditative Prayer
Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline
Fridays: Martial Arts Practice