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Spiritual Practice

The Liturgy of the Hours

Anne Crumpler

The purpose of the liturgy is to make the day holy, to give all daily activities to God.

In monasteries, prayers structure daily life. At one time, monks prayed every three hours, day and night. Now they take more time to sleep, eat, and work; but in many religious communities, someone is praying all the time. Monasteries use the Liturgy of the Hours, an order of worship that includes psalms, prayers, scripture readings, and meditations. The purpose of the liturgy is to make the day holy, to give all daily activities to God.

 

Praying The Hours

If you followed the monks’ example of prayer, how would your life change? How would your relationship with God change? Use the following order of prayer for two or three days. Then think about how this way of praying has made your days more holy.

 

devozine, morningLauds: Morning Prayers

Lauds are the first prayers of the day.

Read a Psalm. On your first day of praying the Hours, read Psalm 117. On the second day, read Psalm 50:1–2. On the third day, read Psalm 148:1–8.

Say a prayer of intercession. Pray for family and friends; and ask for God’s presence in the lives of the poor, the powerful, the sick, and the lonely.

Say a prayer for the day: All praise to you, gracious God, for your abundant love. Be with me today; and awaken in me love for others so that in all I do, I will praise your name. Amen.

Say the Lord’s Prayer.

 

The Little Hours

The Little Hours are prayers that are said at set times throughout the day.

Terce (midmorning): God, fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I may know and do your will. Amen.

Sext (noon): God, when I am tempted, remind me that you provide all I need. Amen.

None (mid-afternoon): God, give me courage and strength to stand firm in faith throughout the day. Amen.

An alternative to the Little Hours is the Office of Readings, which can be done at any time during the day. This is a good time to read Devo’Zine or two or three chapters from the Bible and to spend some time in silent reflection.

 

Vespers: Evening Prayers

Read a scripture passage. On your first day, read 1 Kings 19:11–13a and Matthew 11:28–30. On the second day, read Ezekiel 36:24–28 and 2 Corinthians 5:16–20. On the third day, read Ecclesiastes 3:10–15 and Romans 14:6–9.

Say a prayer of intercession. Pray for people whose joys or concerns have come to your attention during the day.

Say a prayer for the evening: Thank you, God, for all your good gifts — for quiet prayers, for family love, for routine chores, for good times shared with friends, for the day’s work and the evening’s rest. Be with me and give me faith to hear, speak, and live your word. Amen.

Offer praise. Sing or say the words of a favorite hymn or praise song.

 

Compline

Compline completes the Liturgy of the Hours; these prayers are said at bedtime.

Examine your day. For what are you most grateful? For what are you least grateful? Where did you see God today?devozine candle cross

Say a prayer of petition and dedication. Ask for God’s forgiveness, and dedicate all your days to God.

Say a prayer before bed: God, bless me and keep me in your love, through Jesus Christ. Amen.

 

 

Dig Deeper

Before a battle in the English Civil War, English Royalist soldier Sir Jacob Astley prayed, “O Lord! thou knowest how busy I must be this day: If I forget thee, do not thou forget me.” Sometimes we’re too busy to pray, but God remembers us and cares for us.

 

REFLECT: How are the days when you pray different from the days when you make no time for prayer?

To learn more about the Liturgy of the Hours, check out www.universalis.com or www.liturgyhours.org. To practice the Liturgy of the Hours online, check out the Northumbria Community. For morning and evening prayer online or as an app, visit http://www.missionstclare.com/.


Anne Crumpler lives and writes in Nashville, Tennessee.

—from devozine (March/April 2003). Copyright © 2003 by Upper Room Ministries. All rights reserved.

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