Pr. Karl Bachman, put together a nice introduction to the use of the orders of daily prayer in the Treasury of Daily Prayer. These orders of daily prayer are also known as “office” or the “divine office.” During the time of the Middle Ages these became obligatory especially among the monastic communities where they developed eventually into seven set “hours” of prayer, hence the expression, “liturgy of the hours.” Here is a PDF file divine_office and here is the Word format of this document: divine_office
Christian prayer is rooted in the revelatory Word of God. We hear the voice of God addressed to us and to the Church through the Holy Scriptures. As we receive this Word from God, the heart of faith desires to respond. It is out of this receiving of God’s Word and the desire to respond, that the conversation with God, which is prayer, happens.
The ancient form of structured prayer through the day, often called the Daily Office and the Liturgy of the Hours, is not simply a vehicle by which Christians are brought to prayer, rather it is a tool developed by the Church to instruct us in prayer and faith, and a means to keep our conversation with God rooted in His Word.
Praying at appointed times during the day can be traced back to the Old Testament practice of praying at fixed hours of the day. God commanded the Israelite priests to offer morning and evening sacrifices (Exodus 29:38-39, Exodus 30:6-8). Psalm 1:2 instructs: “but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.” When sacrifices were outlawed during Israel’s forced exile in Babylon prayer services were developed in the synagogues as sacrifices of praise. Upon the return of the Jewish people to judea, those prayer services were brought into the Temple. In addition to the prayers accompanying ht morning and evening sacrifices, there was prayer at the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the day (Psalm 119:164). Much evidence suggests that this structured schedule of prayers, a feature of liturgical life at the time of Christ, was passed on as a legacy to the Early Church, providing the form, if not the content, for the daily prayers.
Although the Christians no longer shared the Temple sacrifices–for they had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ–they were devoted to “the prayers” (Acts 2:42) and continued to pray at the customary hours (Acts 10:9), and even frequent the Temple to pray (Acts 3:1) Continue reading