The Daily Office

Before I begin talking about The Daily Office, tomorrow [Wednesday], I will be fasting in preparation for the message this weekend on Fasting on Sabbath. If you’d like to join me in that, drop me a comment. I’d love to know that there’s friends out there joining! Now, on to the Daily Office.

Almost two years ago I read Tony Jones’ book, The Sacred Way, in which he records the history, theology and practice of 16 different spiritual disciplines. What interested me the most in Tony’s writing and in this book in particular was the way in which I connected with the frustration he had experienced in his own devotional life. Tony writes,

I had been taught that the way to connect with God on a daily basis is to have a 30 minutes “quiet time.” That is, you should sit down with your Bible open, read it a little, and then lay a bunch of stuff on God making sure to mention how excellent he is before running through the list of all the things you need. [p.15]

Tony goes on to talk about the lack of fruit he experienced in his life following this devotional model and the increasing level of guilt he felt from his inability to experience the growth he assumed would coincide with his “quiet time” practice.

After about 10 years of this, and hearing this same pattern corroborated by many people who were also trying to listen for God in their lives, something occurred to me: People have been trying to follow God for thousands of years… Maybe somewhere along the line some of them had come up with ways of connecting with God that could help people like me. [p. 15]

Tony’s book was my first exposure to the Jesus Prayer which I wrote about a few days ago, but out of this reading, the most fruitful practice that has been a fairly consistent part of my life has been the Daily Office.

Throughout the Judeo-Christian story, both Christians and Jews have participated in certain practices that have taken place at certain times of the day. Going back to the days of the Jerusalem temple, there were certain sacrifices, prayers, and liturgy that were specific to the hour of the day. The Psalmist writes, “Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous ordinances.” [Psalm 119:164]

In the New Testament, we read several references to the hour of the day and the significant things that happen in this life of Jesus and his disciples at these specific times of prayer. The most notable is Peter’s vision in Acts 10 which happens when, “About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray.” [Acts 10:9] What was Peter doing? The same thing he did everyday at noon… Praying!

The best way to describe the Daily Office is that it is fixed hour prayer book [also called The Canonical Hours]. Working with a prayer book, [I’ll tell you more about the one I use tomorrow or the following day] you set aside time during certain times of the day to work through some readings and prayers. The book that I use has four prayer times during the day; The Morning Office to be observed between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., The Midday Office to be observed between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., the Vespers Office to be observed between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Compline which is observed before retiring before bed.

Each of the Office times take about 15-20 minutes and include prayers, scripture reading, and other portions of sacred writings from all parts of Christian history. Sometimes this is a thought from a 13th century theologian. Sometimes it’s the words to a hymn written in the 19th century. Each office incorporates the Lord’s Prayer and the Gloria which those who attend one of our traditional services would know. [Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and forever, AMEN.]

There are also some prayers that are repeated each day. At the bottom of the post are several from the prayer book that I use.

Since this post is already running a little long, in the next few days, I’ll post about some of the resources that I’ve found helpful in practicing the Daily Office and I’ll spend some time talking about how I’ve tweaked my own use of this resource to fit me.

Here are some prayers that are repeated each day.

Morning Office

Lord God, Almighy and everlasting Father, you have brought me in safety to this new day. Preserve me with your might power that I may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all I do direct me to the fulfilling of your purpose through Jesus Christ my Lord, AMEN.

Compline

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous, and all for your love’s sake. AMEN.

One Response to “The Daily Office”

  1. Art Brucks says:

    David…. good post. Ordered the book Sacred Way and Revolution …looking forward to reading them both..and connecting in a deeper way with God.
    Peace to you…. Art B.

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