This week St. Andrew’s had evening prayer at the start of our First Wednesday parish dinner. Twenty people gathered in the church as the vesper light illuminated our stained glass windows. We worshipped God, our own gracious light, for the day we were given. And I was reminded yet again how transformative the practice of morning and evening prayer can be.
I have to confess I love the daily office. Right before I came home to The Episcopal Church, I read Kathleen Norris’ book The Cloister Walk, in which she shares her encounters with God at a Minnesota monastery. As she unfolded the daily rhythm of morning and evening prayer, of compline at the end of the day, I was transfixed. I had to try it! Soon afterwards, I discovered the daily office in the Prayer Books and began clumsily trying it out. During my Anglican year at the Seminary of the Southwest, I had the opportunity to pray the Daily Office five days a week in chapel. Something about the rhythm of greeting and ending each day with praise and prayer changed me.
Praying the daily office makes not just the time we intentionally pray holy, it makes all of time holy. It leads us into the pattern that we find in the Eucharist – birth, life, death and resurrection. Every morning is the birth of a new day, filled with promise and opportunity. During the day, we build a life with God through our families and vocations. We never, ever finish our to-do list so we are invited to confess and let go of “what has been left undone.” And the sun sets and twilight gives way to darkness. The day is over. The darkness of the night, our complete lack of awareness as we sleep, is a form of death. No wonder so many evening prayers ask God for protection from evil. Kathleen Norris describes it this way in her book: “The night will come with its great equalizers, sleep and death. It will pass over us, and bring us forth again into light.” Ah, yes, we are a sunrise people, trusting and inviting God’s work during every hour of our lives.
The Daily Office can be prayed on your own, at church or even online. Give it a try and I guarantee you won’t regret it. If I can help you get more comfortable with praying the Daily Office, please let me know.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
St. Andrew’s has Morning Prayer Monday through Friday at 7:30 am in the church
St. Andrew’s has Evening Prayer on Wednesday nights at 5:30 pm in the church
Morning Prayer in Traditional Language – BCP p. 37
Morning Prayer in Contemporary Language – BCP p. 75
Noonday Prayer – BCP p. 103
Evening Prayer in Traditional Language – BCP p. 61
Evening Prayer in Contemporary Language – BCP p. 115
Compline (Bedtime Prayer) – BCP p. 127
But I still don’t have enough time for this! Great News! The BCP has one page daily devotions for individuals and families starting on p. 137
Online Daily Office you can read: http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html
The Daily Office in Audio (Great way to pray on your way to school or work) http://www.missionstclare.com/english/spoken/spoken.html
Peace & Goodness,
The Rev. Deacon Matt Stone