Thursday, June 7, 2007

Fixed Hour Prayer

The discipline I chose to practice this week is sometimes referred to as divine hours, the divine office, daily office or fixed hour prayer. It has grown out of the tradition of the Benedictine monastic order and originally had nine different times of prayer. It is now down to seven in most orders and many lay people pray anywhere from three to four. My practice this week has been morning prayer, noon prayer and then evening prayer or vespers. This is a short explanation from the website Explore Faith.

People have prayed at fixed hours during the day for centuries. Quietly easing away from the obligations of home or work, they take a few moments to spend time with God. These moments connect them to the Divine, and to the countless others who are also pausing to pray the prayers designated for that hour, on that day. Prayers whispered and chanted, spoken loud and clear or murmured silently within, all join together in a continuous flow, a river of words from our soul to God’s. [1]

I have found surprising benefits in this practice. In the prayers and readings, I have sensed participation with the whole worldwide church. The scripture passages are from the lectionary so would be read by many others. To consider how many people throughout the world may be doing this very thing moves me. Each time I participate in this discipline, I have had such a sense of God’s presence and of worship together with the whole people of God.

Yesterday was a stressful day at work. At lunch time, I came home and prayed the noontime prayers. Such peace flowed through me as I entered into God’s presence. I find I have a greater focus and clarity to my prayers. I’m not spending time thinking about what to pray for.

In the process, I have come across two great sites. The first is referenced below in my footnote, “Explore Faith” and the second is http://www.missionstclare.com/english/index.html, which has the services for each season of prayer.

This has been a very enlightening experience for me. I thought I would only practice this for this week for the course. It has been extremely meaningful, however, and is something I feel compelled to include as part of my daily routine.



[1] Explore Faith, The Divine Hours, 2007. Online: http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html [7 June 2007].

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