Friday, July 08, 2005

the wb daily prayer scheme

Because daily prayer is an integral part of the Christian life, I offer the scheme which I have adopted with mixed success. It is, basically the fourfold Book of Common Prayer daily office. Typically I pray two or three of the offices, though rarely all four. A couple of years ago, my mother gave me a copy of the Daily Office Book, which really has lived up to its advertised ability to painlessify the praying of the Offices, which it does by including the lectionary readings in sequence. Unlike using the Book of Common Prayer, that is, you don't need a Bible. Here is how it is meant to go in my day:

(1) Morning Prayer, Rite 1

I try to say this shortly after rising in the morning. Lately this has been at about 11:00 a.m. Shame. More often it is at about 6:30 or 7:00. I have been saying the Confession in Latin (because I am trying to learn Latin this Summer, and memorizing Latin prayers is part of the plot). I add the traditional versicle and response "V: Praise ye the Lord. R: The Lord's Name be praised," after the opening versicles and doxology. I use the alternative form of the doxology, which is provided for in the appendicized rubrics for the Daily Office ("Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be, world without end..."). I almost always read two Lessons at Morning Prayer, the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle or Acts or Revelation, saving only the Gospel lesson for Evensong. Invariably I say the Song of Zehariah as one of the Canticles, and select another Canticle on the spot -- typically one of the Songs of Isaiah or the Te Deum. I usually say the salutation and bidding (The Lord be with You. And with thy spirit. Let us pray.), though I don't know if that is appropriate when one is saying the office by oneself. This I follow with the Kyrie (Lord have mercy upon us. Christ have mercy upon us. Lord have mercy upon us.) and proceed thence to the Our Father. There follows the suffrages (in the morning I usually say the shorter suffrages from the end of the Te Deum -- the second set in the Prayer Book). These I follow with the Collect of the Day (Proper 9 currently), and the Collects for Grace and Peace. To this I add, invariably, the first of the Collects for Mission. Occasionally I say the General Thanksgiving, but usually not. I close the Office as indicated ("Let us bless the Lord. Thanks be to God.), invariably ending with "The Grace..." Sometimes I bookend the Office with "In the Name of the + Father..." And sometimes I announce intentions before hand in the spirit of "prayer before praying" and also as a form of intercession.

(2) The Little Office, or An Order of Service for Noonday (as in the Prayer Book)

This I recite as indicated in the Prayer Book, with no variations, except I follow the Psalter through in course. That is, I say the psalms as demarcated in the Prayer Book Psalter, beginning with Psalms 1-5 ("First Day: Morning Prayer"), etc.

(3) Evensong, Rite 1

This follows more or less the pattern of Morning Prayer, that is with all the same changes (Confession in Latin, "Praise ye the Lord, etc." added, the Kyrie inserted, the alternative doxology, etc. etc.). I usually say either the Magnificat or the Nunc Dimitis for the canticle. Invariably use the first set of suffrages. I say three collects (Of the Day, Lighten our darkness, etc., and Peace, or something else chosen on the spot) and, again, the Prayer for Mission. Again, I don't often say the General Thanksgiving, nor the Prayer of St. Chrysostom, but occasionally I do. I always end with The Grace, etc. And Evensong is often bookended with In the Name of the + Father, etc.

(4) Compline

Compline is the Office I am most likely to neglect, usually because I wind up saying Evensong shortly before I go to bed, though I've been trying (without much success) to get out of that habit. When I say it, I say it as it is in the Prayer Book. I have mixed feelings about the Psalmody. I like the invariable recitation of Psalms 4, 31, 91, and 134, as is provided in the Prayer Book, but I also like to continue the method for the Noon Office -- namely, the saying the Psalter through in course, picking up where I left off at noon and saying one more Office's worth. In any event, I invariably use the reading 1 Peter 5.8-9a ("Brethren, be sober, be watchful, etc."). I always use the Collect "Visit this place, O Lord, etc." and add the prayer "Keep watch, etc." The Office is concluded as indicated in the Prayer Book, without variation (except that I prefer the longer form of the Kyrie: "Lord have mercy upon us, etc."

The only thing I would say is that it might be laudable to move the short reading to the beginning of the office, immediately after "May almighty God grant us a peaceful night and a perfect end," and immediately before "Our help is in the Name of the Lord, etc."

Also, in general, it is a laudable practice to begin each office with what is often called the "Dual Prayer" -- i.e. the Lord's Prayer and the Hail Mary. For some reason this is traditionally not done before Compline, though I don't see the harm in doing it.

So that is the prayer scheme that I fail to keep on a daily basis. At its core are Matins and Evensong (Morning and Evening Prayer in the parlance of our time), which I am not bad at keeping. It helps that my bishop expects his clergy to say those two offices daily. That is, his expectation (and my assurance to him) creates a sense of obligation, and not just of edifying myself twice daily.

I am curious if others of you have daily prayer schemes and what they are. This has been mine for three or four years now, and I've found it richly rewarding -- at least in the long term. I often feel like its a pain in the short term; but thats where the sense of obligation to my bishop comes in handy.

1 comment:

J-Tron said...

My current daily prayer for summer is as follows...

Monday - Thursday

8:00 am Morning Prayer

12:00 pm Noonday Prayer

7:30 pm Evening Prayer / Evensong

11:30 pm Compline

On Mondays I use Rite 1. Tuesdays and Wednesdays I use Rite 2. On Thursdays I try to follow prayers from some other prayer book. Usually these days it's either the 1984 or 2004 Book of Common Prayer from the Church of Ireland. I hope to get some more prayer books soon from other parts of the Communion. I like saying offices out of prayer books from other parts of the Communion because it helps to remind me of the connection between the provinces in the One Church and it also puts me into a place of solidarity in prayer with my Anglican brothers and sisters around the world. I do also occasionally use prayer books from other communions (most often the Roman Book of Hours) but I do this less often.

I run through an 8 day cycle with the offices, determining based on the number of the day which opening statements and collects I will say, which set of suffrages to use, etc.

I list Evening prayer / Evensong because my run through of it is more a combination of the two than a pure version of either. I chant the Phos Hilaron, Magnificat or Nunc Dimitis, Apostle's Creed, Suffrages (invariably Suffrages B), General Thanksgiving, and the final blessing. The rest of the service is said, including the psalms.

I do a Confession at every office.

I also do intercessions at every office. At Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer these are said aloud. At Evening Prayer I always include a litany of prayers for teachers and students, the Divinity school, elected officials, my bishop and other bishops in the Communion by name, etc.

I also try to sing a hymn at Morning Prayer and at Evening Prayer. These are usually taken from the Roman Catholic hymnal "Gather" as I generally can't stand the Hymnal, 1982.


8:00 am Morning Prayer, Rite 2

11:00 am private devotional silent prayer

12:00 pm Noonday Prayer

This is the one I'm worst about. I start blogging on Friday mornings and inevitably forget to go start private prayer until 11:15 or 11:30. But the process is basically that I go and sit with God for an hour, allowing the Spirit to touch me and maybe offering up some praise or questions or concerns, but mostly just trying to be alone with God and to give God my full attention. This then leads into Noonday prayer which is a longer service for me on Fridays. I include a few of the prayers from the back of the prayer book, whatever seems appropriate for the day. And then I do my intercessions aloud, generally ending with the litany I use during Evening Prayer the rest of the week.

On the weekend things shift again. This is mainly because my personal rule has included within it space for Sabbath time which includes prayerful rest and playfulness. After dinner on Friday, my Sabbath time begins and goes until bedtime on Saturday. I don't pray the offices during that time. I still utter individual prayers throughout the day as I feel so moved, but not out of obligation. I try not to do things that I would consider "work," including reading from my stack of patristic authors for the summer.

On Sunday I go to Eucharist in the morning. I also try to do some form of biblical reading and study during the day. At 11:45 pm on Sunday I resume my weekly rotation of the Office with Compline.

I'm glad you posted this, Will. Glad you asked about prayer schemes as well. Gave me a nice chance to think about what I've been doing and try to put it down in front of me. Many blessings to you in your continued life of prayer.