Religious people sometimes use devotional books containing prayers, religious readings or poetry to help focus their spiritual practice. One of the best-known prayer books is the Anglican "Book of Common Prayer," which has been used in public worship for centuries. A typical prayer book might include all or part of the Book of Psalms, biblical readings, and formal prayers. Some prayer books include poetry -- usually mystical. Group prayer books reflect the beliefs and customary practices of a group of people, while a personal prayer book can reflect individual preferences and style.
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Select readings from the sacred texts that inspire you. Be sure they are long enough to include substantive content, but brief enough to allow for slow meditative reading. Christians and Jews might draw their readings from the Bible. If you have a different belief system, feel free to use other books, including the Qu'ran, Tao Te Ching or Buddhist writings.
Arrange the selected readings and distribute them over a period of time. For example, your prayer book might be a one or two-week prayer book, or it might extend over the course of an entire year.
Lay out the readings in a manner that makes sense to you. For example, you might wish to plan appropriate readings for special holiday or festive seasons. You can also divide readings between different times of the day.
Include non-scriptural writings by inspirational authors to add variety and balance to your daily spiritual reading.
In your prayer book, you might wish to include well-known prayers or mantras written by famous people, according to your faith tradition. There are many books on the market in which prayers by great spiritual leaders have been collected and arranged.
Consider including time-honoured prayers such as the Lord's Prayer, St Francis' "Peace Prayer," Serenity Prayer, or Shema. Such prayers might be appropriate at the beginning or end of your scheduled prayer and reading time.
If your prayer book includes space for adding your own daily reflections, as in a prayer journal, you might wish to write down your own prayers for individual needs.
Consider including hymns and spiritual poetry in your prayer book. Poetic works are effective when read aloud, and work well in groups or in individual situations where there is enough privacy.
Add illustrations, including sacred art, logos, and calligraphy. Many spiritual works have been translated from ancient languages that are no longer commonly used today. Meditating on a beautifully penned passage in the characters of the original work can be inspiring.
Add a table of contents and calendar at the beginning of your prayer book. The arrangement should make it easy to find the readings and prayers you are seeking.
Attach a topical index at the end of your prayer book. This task can be accomplished relatively easily with the appropriate word processing software.
For personal use, print each page, back to back. Follow the instructions for the word processing software to do this. Include a title page as well, and add illustrations to add interest and artistic richness to your book.
The easiest way to bind your prayer book is by using a three-ring binder. A more elegant option might be to bind it into a plastic spiral-bound booklet.
If you choose to make your book a multiple volume work, try using a different colour cover for each separate volume.
Publishing Your Prayer Book
Tips and warnings
- If you prefer reading an entire work such as the Bible, you might find it convenient to design a reading plan that distributes the reading over the duration of time you have designated as the scope of your prayer book. This way, you need only include a reading plan or schedule and you do not need to paste each of the daily readings into your document.
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