Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Praying the Daily Offices

Ever since I was a second year student in seminary, that's almost fifteen years now, I have been encouraged by professors, colleagues in ministry, and others to broaden and deepen my spirituality. I guess they encouraged me to do that because, as a former history major in college I tend to look at things from arm's length. Whereas those who have encouraged me and continue to know that for me to be an even better pastor I really have to have a deep relationship with God and not merely an awareness of who God is. It has taken me some time to appreciate the wisdom of their encouragement, but along the way I have learned some interesting things as well as developing a richer more fuller relationship with God's purpose, presence and power in my life.

One such practice is saying the "Daily Offices" (the times of daily prayer and worship services prescribed in the Roman Catholic Church and practiced in various ways by other Christian groups or churches). That definition comes from Donald McKim's "Westminster Dictionary of Theological Terms"; it is a funny definition because it makes it seem as though saying daily prayer is foreign to anyone but Roman Catholics. And I suppose to many Presbyterians and other Protestants it may be something of which they are vaguely aware due to novels and movies. But what most Protestants may not beware of is that daily prayer is part of many worship books within various denominations.

For instance, in our own "Book of Common Worship" there are outlines for saying Morning, Midday, and Evening Prayer. We have been using the Evening Prayer format in our monthly Session meetings for the several months now. And even though that resource exists it can be quite cumbersome to pull out the Book of Common Worship, a Bible, and a list of the Daily Lectionary. Having to pull out several books has meant that for the past year or so I've kept one Daily Office sporadically throughout the week, a few times Monday through Friday and Sunday morning. But just the other day I purchased Phyllis Tickle's book "The Divine Hours" which pulls together several different resources into one book.

So this past weekend I started saying four daily offices: first between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m.; second between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.; third between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m.; fourth before going to bed. Don't let those time spans deceive you, it isn't as though I've been praying for three hours at a time four times a day. Rather each office is between four and eight minutes in length. I have found it a very refreshing thing to do, to stop and pray; to stop and check in with God; throughout the day whether I am in the middle of reading a novel or having a water battle with Eric stopping to make time for God has been really good.

Please pray for me that I continue to make time for God and grow in this all-important relationship.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a wonderful exercise for all of us to try.