Prayer is our communication with, to and from God. While there are no bad ways to pray, many have found their prayer life enriched by discovering new ways to pray.
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Good, regular and faithful prayer need not be difficult. Like any practice it benefits from repetition, regularity and persistence. Thankfully, the church has an ancient pattern for prayer that offers exactly the regularity we need. It’s called the daily office, or the liturgy of the hours.
In Constant Prayer (Thomas Nelson, 2008), author Robert Benson defines the daily office as “a regular pattern and order for formal worship and prayer that is offered to God at specific times throughout the course of the day. Each set of prayers, known as an office, is made up of psalms, scriptures, and prayers.”
Praying the daily office makes the whole day holy. Those who pray it wake up praying matins (morning prayer). They go to bed praying compline (night prayer). In between, they offer vespers (evening prayer) and other prayers throughout the day.
Just so, Christians throughout the ages have lifted up their needs and, more expansively, the prayers of the whole church, grounded in the Scripture and Christian tradition. It’s been said that we’re praying “the very prayer which Christ himself, together with his body, addresses to the Father.”
The daily office, especially if prayed with your family at home or at church, is quite musical. If you pray it as it’s organized in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (page 298), you sing some of the great songs of the church. It turns your daily life into a musical. And really, who doesn’t wish their daily life were more like a musical?
In the morning, daily prayer includes the song of Zechariah, the Benedictus (Luke 1:68-79). Evening prayer features the song of Mary, the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55). At night prayer, it’s the song of Simeon, the nunc dimittis (Luke 2:29-32). Sing these daily and you offer on your lips and in your heart songs that were on the lips of those great saints.
© 2014 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers