The Book of Common Prayer, used by Christians of all denominations for hundreds of years, offers a rich and widely varying tapestry of prayers to be said throughout the year. Depending on the season, it includes short fragments of scripture from all over the Bible, each of which becomes a prayer of praise or petition, grounding our daily devotional practices in a tradition that goes back as far as Ancient Israel.

One of the few features of the daily prayer that remains the same every day is a brief component that prepares us to meet the coming day. Each morning, the Book of Common Prayer counsels us to pray this:

The night has passed, and the day lies open before us;
let us pray with one heart and mind.

The context for this prayer was originally a small group of people that would come to the church for a short daily service (or a monastery), where the worship was led by a lector or priest. The language is communal: “we” and “us”. It is first a call to unity among those gathered: be of the same mind as Jesus (Philippians 2).

The Book of Common Prayer was written in a day when most people lived within walking distance of their church. Few modern protestant churches hold the daily offices because people no longer order their life around church worship in the same way they once did. Still, many Christians around the world continue to use the Book of Common Prayer as a liturgy for private devotions, though the “we” and “us” language doesn’t apply in quite the same way.

But there is a hidden treasure in the last line quoted above, “let us pray with one heart and mind.” There is an invitation here to a different kind of opening prayer for the day, whether we are gathered with fellow saints or not. Hidden in these words is a call not merely to unity among gathered believers, but to unity with the will of God, whose Spirit lives in us and who guides and animates our prayers.

When we say “let us pray with one heart and mind”, we have the opportunity to remind ourselves that the Spirit of God is here and he is praying with us. This is an opportunity to align ourselves with his heart and his mind. We open our eyes to see the day before us as a day we approach together with God. He has gone before us into all that this day will bring; he knows what’s coming and he is already there with the strength to meet every challenge and to weather every storm. He has seeded the day with opportunities to see and know him, to serve those he loves with all of our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to receive and enter the in-breaking kingdom of God.

Dallas Willard:

“Prayer as kingdom praying is an arrangement explicitly instituted by God in order that we as individuals may count, and count for much, as we learn step-by-step how to govern, to reign with him in his kingdom. To enter and to learn this reign is what gives the individual life its intended significance. This high calling also explains why prayer frequently requires much effort, continuous effort, and on some matters possibly years and years of effort. Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character. It combines freedom and power with service and love. What God gets out of our lives—and, indeed, what we get out of our lives—is simply the person we become. It is God’s intention that we should grow into the kind of person he could empower to do what we want to do. Then we are ready to “reign forever and ever” (Revelation 22:5). Reign is no doubt wording that is a little too grand for the contemporary mind, though what it refers to is what everyone actually pursues in life. We have been trained to think of reigning as exclusionary of others. But in the heart of the divine conspiracy, it just means to be free and powerful in the creation and governance of what is good. In the life of prayer we are training for, we reign in harmonious union with the infinite power of God.”
Divine Conspiracy, p250.

Prepare yourself for kingdom praying with this little prayer each morning: “let us pray with one heart and mind.” We do not approach the day alone. We do not face the day with merely our own strength. The outcome of the day does not depend solely on our own efforts, because God is with us. We don’t set the agenda; God does. Neither anxiety nor ambition drive the choices we make for the coming day; love does.

Are you willing to pray this prayer? Are you willing to align your heart and mind with God’s at the beginning of each day? Will the little kingdom over which you have dominion be caught up in God’s larger, more beautiful, more lasting kingdom? This is the Regnare Project. Let us pray with one heart and mind.

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