How Prayer Can Prepare Us For Death

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The author of Rabbit Room’s “Every Moment Holy” liturgies on what he has learned about grief and hope in 2020.

Douglas McKelvey has been writing short prayers for years. Formerly a lyricist for artist Charlie Peacock and other Christian bands, McKelvey was also involved in the early work of Art House America, a self-described “artistic hub” and nonprofit founded by Peacock and led by Christian creatives such as Sara Groves.

In 2017, McKelvey published a book of daily liturgies called Every Moment Holy, Vol. 1 through a creative collective called Rabbit Room founded by singer-songwriter Andrew Peterson. McKelvey’s recently published second volume is filled with liturgies for grief, death, and dying, released 12 months after the coronavirus pandemic swept the United States and killed hundreds of thousands. CT interviewed McKelvey about how his latest volume and the past year’s events shaped his beliefs on death and dying.

What was your inspiration for Every Moment Holy?

I was working on a science fiction novel but kind of felt like I was spinning my wheels. A lot of days I just wasn’t making any progress. And at a certain point, I thought, I really need a prayer that I could pray when I sit down in the morning to work—to write something that would reorient me in terms of my relationship to my Creator and my relationship to my craft and whatever gifts I’m a steward of. So, I wrote this prayer and called it a liturgy for fiction writers.

That was a couple of months before a conference where I was speaking with Andrew Peterson and author Heidi Johnston. I emailed that prayer for fiction writers to Andrew, and he responded pretty quickly and said, “Hey, this is great, but man, I wish I had a liturgy for beekeeping” and a couple of other things.

That was the immediate moment where the lightbulb …

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