I posted previously about how to read & pray every day using the Daily Office and explained the importance of praying and reading the scripture daily. Remember that the Daily Office was written for daily church services, and now that we don’t have the ability in the modern day to go to church every day, I’m adapting it to fit the needs of family daily prayer. And now here’s the nitty-gritty.
The structure of the Daily Office breaks down into four parts: the Opening, the Psalms, the Readings, and the Prayers. These four parts fall under one of two categories: the Ordinary and the Proper. The Ordinary parts of the Office stay the same all the time, while the Proper parts change according to the day or season of the Church Year (includes different psalms, readings and prayers).
How do we implement the Daily Office into family prayer? How frequently in the day should we pray as a family?
There’s the ancient practice of praising God seven times a day (Psalm 119:164):
- Matins: Midnight
- Lauds: 3 a.m.
- Prime: 6 a.m.
- Terce: 9 a.m.
- Sext: Noon
- None: 3 p.m.
- Vespers: 6 p.m.
- Compline: 9 p.m.
Then there’s the “Simple Plan” (Psalm 55:17):
- Morning Prayer – Around Breakfast
- Evening Prayer – Around Dinner
- Night Prayer – Around Bedtime
I prefer the Simple Plan. I find the most effective way to implement the Simple Plan is to add it to our mealtimes before we eat. Blessing the meals have become a habit already, so it is easier to remember and do daily. If you add it to mealtimes, then I suggest you do the Morning Prayer for breakfast, Evening Prayer for lunch, and Night Prayer for dinner. If you shoot for mealtimes and you miss one, you can add it on to your bedtime routine!
I understand that life is busy, and especially to add yet another thing to our mealtimes when we’re hungry! I find this to be the best blessing in stretching our lives spiritually. What better way to train for holiness than to deny the flesh, grow patience, and place God above our needs and desires? Wait an extra five to fifteen minutes before partaking in your food–it will have a meaningful impact on your spiritual formation. Be conscientious of the tendency to go through the motions in order to get to the food, so be diligent in reminding your family of the significance of this practice. If it starts to become a problem, try planning more time ahead of mealtime to begin the prayers. (Leave something baking in the oven while you pray rather than salivating over the ready-to-eat food!)
Below I have put together three options for adapting the Daily Office to the Simple Plan (praying before each meal). After laying out these options, I will go into great detail on how to do Option 1. Whichever option you go with, make sure you: ask your parish priest for some advice, and find other families to keep yours accountable.
Option 1 for the Simple Plan using App (FREE):
- Download the Daily Prayer App (FREE – 1662 Book of Common Prayer)
- Check out my Step-by-Step Instructions on adapting the prayers for family or personal prayer
Option 2 for the Simple Plan using BCP (Costs around $22):
- Purchase or Download a Book of Common Prayer (BCP 1662, $14 on Amazon)
- Get a Bible (King James Version for $8 on Amazon)
- Become familiar with the sections of the book since you’ll have to be turning back and forth from section to section. Check out Richard Liantonio’s step-by-step instructions on how to use the BCP for praying the Daily Office.
Option 3 for the Simple Plan using Documents (FREE):
- Download the Daily Office from the Book of Common Prayer (FREE)
- Download the Reading Booklets for the full text scripture readings (Thanks to Richard Liantonio from “On the Road to Emmaus”) or Download the Daily Lectionary for a 2-year schedule of scripture passages if you prefer to use your Bible
- Download the Schedule for singing/praying the Psalms
- Become familiar with the structure laid out in the Daily Office document (once again, Richard Liantonio goes through this step-by-step).
Tips for if you find yourself short of time (applicable to all three options):
- Pray aloud – this will keep you awake, in fact, if you like to sing, sing your prayers! You can learn more about this when I write about how to chant, but the quick explanation is just pick one note and say everything on this one note. (We use F4 for females and F3 for males)
- Pray the minimums – at least pray the Psalms, Creed and the Lord’s Prayer
- Pray shorter scripture excerpts – rather than cutting out the scriptures or skipping over the Old Testament readings (because I know you had that same thought as me), at least read one verse from each selection to allow your mind and heart be exposed to the sections of the Bible that the founders of the BCP found important
- Pray the Jesus Prayer – When alone, start your prayers with “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner,” and end with “Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me”
For detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures of how to adapt the Daily Office using the Daily Prayer App, check out Part 3 of my series on praying and reading at home! Most of the material in this post was taken from Richard Liantonio‘s blog. I encourage you to check them out for more information and get praying as a family!