Regnum Christi | Legionaries of Christ

“Lord, teach us to pray” Álvaro Abellán Discusses the New RC Prayer Book for Lay Members

Just before Christmas 2022, the new prayer book for lay members of Regnum Christi was published. The title comes from the dialogue that the disciples have with Jesus when they see him praying: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Lk 11:1). The project, assigned by the General Directive College of the Federation to the Office of Life and Mission, involved wide-spread participation of lay members from around the world. We spoke about it with Álvaro Abellán-García, a lay member of the General Directive College of Regnum Christi who was involved with the process.

  • “Lord, teach us to pray” expresses the request we make to the Lord as lay members of Regnum Christi to renew our prayer by dialoguing with him, living and praying as he did.”
  • “I hope that those who knew the old prayer book will see in this book what they have always had, but through renewed eyes.”
  • “The book prioritizes the life of prayer, as opposed to a list of practices and recited prayers.”
  • Lord Teach Us to Pray is available on our website, on the RC English App, and in audio version on all major streaming platforms.  It will be available for purchase as a soft-cover print book soon.

Why do we need a new prayer book?

First of all, I would say that rather than a “new book,” this is an important update to our existing prayer book. There is already a tradition of prayer for the lay members of Regnum Christi. This book incorporates its latest developments, one more step along the way, at the pace at which our charism and identity are unfolding.

The main reason for this update is offered by the title. Lord, Teach us to Pray expresses the request lay members of Regnum Christi make to the Lord to renew our prayer and our life through dialoguing with him, living and praying as he did. In addition, we have confirmed established elements of our prayer tradition and have incorporated elements of the renewal of the charism that we see in many places, localities, and members of Regnum Christi, in order to make them available to all. There are also other reasons, linked to this, such as adapting the prayer book to the charismatic expression in our statutes and incorporating various requests that we have received during the last few years from many lay people and formators.

 The old prayer book has a history. It began as a “Prayer Manual” adapted from what the Legionaries of Christ used. Does it retain anything of that manual today?

Of course! Historically, the prayer book was a formation tool designed by the Legionaries so that formators could teach the lay members how to pray. From the moment we received that teaching, our own tradition of prayer was born. During the last years, we lay members have confirmed and renewed our own tradition of prayer in dialogue with the universal Church and with our brothers and sisters in the three consecrated vocations of Regnum Christi, deepening our understanding of the specifics of the prayer life of the laity, according to our own vocation and state of life.

What was the development of the book like?

Long, very participative, demanding, and respectful of our history and of the lights we have received during the renewal of recent years. If you want details, you can find them in the letter from the General Directive College that introduces the book and is printed in its first pages. For me, important elements of the process are that the changes are not the fruit of an arbitrary design but reflect the lived experience of the prayer of the lay members of Regnum Christi and that, before publishing the book, it was tested, piloted, and practiced in the personal prayer of lay people in multiple places for several months.

Is it possible to speak of a particular way of praying in Regnum Christi?

I believe that the lay members of Regnum Christi try to walk at the rhythm of the Church, as members of the Church, and that this also applies to the life of prayer. Without claiming a forced originality, but as a call to communion. On the other hand, the conversation God has with each person – and each person has with him – is always unique.

That said, it is true that there are characteristic features of prayer in Regnum Christi. I discover them especially as I live my vocation among good friends of mine, lay people in my diocese, and from other charisms of the Church, when we pray together and share about our prayer life. There are also some prayers proper to Regnum Christi, as well as traditions and devotions of the Church that we especially value. All this is indicated in the rubrics of Lord, Teach us to Pray since it is important to know that we are united to the prayer of the Church, while identifying our traditions allows us to recognize ourselves as a spiritual family and apostolic body, and to bring the accents proper to our charism to our prayer.

Available in audio version on all streaming platforms

What new things are there in Lord, Teach us to Pray?

I believe that ideally each member, in their prayer, will discover them on their own. If something particularly strikes you, because it is new or different from what you are used to, I encourage you to practice it for a while, to let yourself be formed by prayer and the presence of the Lord there, listening to what the Holy Spirit wants to tell you.

But I can share a hint: in this book the life of prayer is prioritized, as opposed to the list of practices and recited prayers. It emphasizes that a lay member’s time of prayer is intimately connected to the liturgy and to the ordinary life of the laity, which should be a prolongation of prayer and the sacraments, a lived liturgy, a presence of the Kingdom in the midst of daily circumstances.

Is this prayer book definitive, or will there be future changes?

The book has been approved without a specific timeframe. Personally, I believe that most of the prayer book will remain the same for many years, since it gives continuity to attitudes, practices, and prayers that we have always had. At the same time, I believe that other parts can and should be updated from time to time and with a certain frequency, when errors or the need for improvement have been identified – no human work is perfect – the prayer book is meant to accompany the lay members’ life of prayer, and should stay in pace with those changes.

In the RC English App

What advice would you give to those who are approaching Lord, Teach us to Pray for the first time?

Something like: “Read it with openness and goodwill, as a guide to encounter God in prayer and to keep that encounter alive in your ordinary life. If you discover something of value, make it your own and share it with others. If you detect an error, see something that could be improved or feel you have an important contribution to make, send it to us through the contact us page on the website. Share your experiences and reflections with us there.” All contributions received will be evaluated right away and given to those who will be commissioned to prepare the next prayer book update.

Throughout the development of Lord, Teach us to Pray, we have looked both at our veteran members and our young people. We have tried to make it so that those who knew the old prayer book see in this book what has always been there, but through renewed eyes; and hopefully some of them will also see something else of value. Something that has always been there, but that we have not always known how to express. If something seems strange to you, I ask you to give it a chance for a reasonable time.

To the young – or not so young – who never knew the previous prayer book, I would ask them to receive this as a gift that Regnum Christi has always wanted to give them: our tradition of prayer, renewed with the lessons learned from our recent history. It has taken until today because we wanted to give you something renewed, thoughtful, and prayerfully prepared.

Lord Teach Us to Pray: Regnum Christi Prayer Book for Lay Members is available on our website, on the RC English App, and in audio version on all major streaming platforms.  It will be available for purchase as a soft-cover print book soon.

Translated from the original Spanish