Thomas Cranmer, who compiled the first prayerbook in our tradition, saw the benefit of the monastic prayer routine, but its impracticality for those living outside the walls of the monastery. So, he condensed the seven Daily Offices (times for prayer and worship) into two the primary services of Morning and Evening Prayer, which were supplemented by a Noonday Prayer and Compline prior to bed. They serve as a perfect way to engage the Lord throughout the day, in addition to serving as a guide for our times with the Lord.
Each service begins with personal inventory as we confess our sins before the Lord. By doing so, we approach God with a clean heart in order that we may hear and receive His Word to us. It continues with a Psalm, passage of Scripture, or anthem appropriate to the time of day, which keeps our eyes focused upon the Lord. The heart of the Daily Office is the Old Testament, Psalm, New Testament, and Gospel readings that change daily over a two year cycle to immerse us in the totality of Scripture. If faithfully done, you will read the majority of the Bible in two years (some portions several times over).
After reading God’s Word, it continues with the Creed, as we affirm our faith and the source of our hope as Christians. The end of the service moves into the Lord’s Prayer and a set of prayers not only for ourselves, but also for the world and the Church. It concludes with a series of prayers appropriate to the day and for the continuation of God’s work in the world. Finally, the service ends with a prayer of thanksgiving and an offering of ourselves before we go out to bless the Lord in the remaining tasks before us.
The Daily Offices provide an anchor to our busy lives, and the routine of the services shape and form us. I have found it serves as bookends to my day to ever keep me focused, so that I don’t miss the ‘forest for the trees’ amidst the trials and tasks of the day. I would urge you to make it part of your routine as well. And you can even find an online version that makes it accessible wherever you may be.