I don’t know where I would be without the Daily Office. Praying the Anglican liturgy for Morning and Evening Prayer has been a steady part of my devotional practice for over two years, and there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s become an important tool for the Holy Spirit to change my heart and mind.
The people of God have from ancient times prayed at fixed hours during the day (see Psalm 119:164, Psalm 55:17, Acts 3:1, and so on). A rich tradition of praying multiple times a day using a liturgy revolving around the Christian Calendar developed quickly in the early Church. This Liturgy of the Hours solidified into 8 commonly used “Offices” for various times of day and was exemplified by the monastic practice of the Middle Ages.
At the time of the English Reformation, Thomas Cranmer and others sought to simplify basic pattern of the Liturgy of the Hours and–with The Book of Common Prayer–bring daily morning and evening offices into common parish life. To this day, many Anglican clergy are required to pray the Morning and Evening Offices, corporately or in private. Where not required, the Daily Office is still usually highly encouraged and appreciated as a vital part of Anglican tradition.
Here are 4 reasons I try never to miss a day of Morning and Evening Prayer…even if I have to sacrifice to make it happen.
1) The Daily Office has tremendous power for discipleship.
Praying “from a script” sometimes gets a bad rap, but there is massive potential for education and formation if you allow yourself to internalize the theological richness of the prayers, creeds, and collects.
Of course, that’s not even considering that an integral part of the Daily Office is the Daily Office Lectionary! Every day I read from the Psalms, the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Epistles. This keeps me reading almost every part of the Bible and often parts I’d otherwise skip or miss.
2) The Daily Office connects me with the Church Universal.
Many of the prayers that make up the Daily Office such as the Te Deum, the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom, the Lord’s Prayer, and the Gloria Patri have been part of the historic practice of the church since well before the English Reformation, and remain in use by Christians in various denominations all over the world.
The Daily Office also revolves around the Christian Calendar, so it helps to observe the seasons of our faith, beginning in Advent and moving all the way through Ordinary Time. Since most Christians (even those from different liturgical traditions) observe the Christian Calendar, this can be a meaningful way of joining together with diverse groups of Christians in a shared rhythm.
When I pray the Office, I know I’m never alone. I’m joining thousands and thousands of other Christians (many not Anglican) praying the same prayers and reading the same Scriptures.
3) The Daily Office connects me with the Anglican tradition.
Although the Daily Office liturgy is rooted in the ancient traditions, there’s no denying its special place in Anglican practice since the time of the English Reformation. When I first came to the Anglican church, I knew that in order to really understand it, I’d have to immerse myself in its liturgy…so I did just that. I still have so much to learn, but the Daily Office has been my consistent guide along the Canterbury Trail, helping me to adopt and internalize the theological priorities, traditions, and perspectives of the Anglican Way.
4) The Daily Office helps me develop discipline and consistency.
Because I’ve adopted the Daily Office as my primary “daily devotional,” I’m no longer skipping around the Bible at random or wondering which new devotional book to do. I know what I’m doing: The Daily Office. Simply committing to one practice as primary has had positive impact on my ability to stay consistent with my “quiet time.”
Since the Daily Office is at its heart a corporate practice, I’ve also arranged to pray with others regularly, so there’s a built-in measure of accountability there.
The Office itself also draws me back each day. I know now that I need the Confession and Absolution, I miss the Psalms if I forget them, and I want to continue the readings where I last left off. The Daily Office immerses me in the story of Jesus in all aspects of life.
Praying the Daily Office has opened doors for the Holy Spirit to speak to me in life-altering ways through the Scriptures and the Church. If you haven’t already, I wholeheartedly encourage you to explore this beautiful, historic, powerful way of prayer.
Nathan R. Hale is a husband, father, minister, writer and musician. He inspires, equips and educates young Christian leaders for a deeper communion with Christ and more effective discipleship. Contact Nathan.