The Daily Office
Morning and Evening Prayer
The Daily Office is said for the parish at Saint Mary’s at 9.00am and 5.30pm Monday- Saturday. This is led and prayed by clergy and laity alike.
One of the well kept secrets of the Anglican Church is that of praying Morning and Evening Prayer in public. This pattern of prayer is one which has its roots in the mists of the history of the Church and is properly seen as a gift for all the baptised – not just for the clergy.
A vital starting point for Christian prayer is that it is one. The prayer of the Church is the total prayer of all Christians. Each member of the Body of Christ offers that prayer as part of the whole, whatever form that prayer may take. For it is Christ who is praying in his Church.
There are, we all know, lots of different ways of praying, but there are three particular strands worthy of emphasis. First, the sacraments – especially the Eucharist where the Church is most fully herself. Second, daily liturgical prayer offered either individually or together. Third, the intimate prayer of individuals.
It is daily liturgical prayer which we are particularly concerned with here. Daily liturgical prayer is a gift to the Father, covenanted and offered in its own right as part of the prayer of the whole Body, regardless of who is around or absent. As part of the prayer of the whole Body, the public Daily Office is grounded within the vocation of the whole community. In other words, those who pray the Daily Office do so on behalf of everybody.
One of the gifts of the Daily Office is that it unites the Church in time (tradition) and space (the contemporary worldwide Church) and reminds us that our prayer is part of something much bigger than ourselves. The same prayer is offered by countless Anglicans – and others – across the world as we pray the same psalms together – though apart – and are fed by the same passages of scripture.
One of the things which is indispensible to the life of the Church is finding a pattern of daily prayer. While not all Christians are called to direct participation in this classical form of Christian prayer, it is a gift to the Church and one which can enrich our lives and our patterns of prayer. In an extraordinary note of clarity the Second Vatican Council spoke of the pattern of liturgical prayer as ‘.the voice of the bride addressing her bridegroom.’ This image looks back over a rich history of connection between the Church’s prayer and the language of love, through the Song of Songs to the Lord’s word himself.
All very well you might say, but I’m no great prayer! Well join the club. But for those of us for whom this is our lot, we need to work harder. Not all of us are called to be great pray-ers, but the Church as a body is. The prayer of the belongs to each of us. The liturgical prayer of the Church in the daily office will always go on – often hidden: an offering by a few on behalf of all. And, as with all prayer, all we are called to do is to surrender ourselves so that the Spirit can cry out within us (Romans 8). Through hearing the word of God; reciting the psalms quietly together (trying to unite our voices to sound as one); through prayer; singing and silence, we express our calling as the Body of Christ and present ourselves to the Father, through Christ and in the Spirit.
So why not come and join in this small part of the life of our parish? We’re there Monday-Saturday at 9am and Monday-Thursday and Saturday at 5.30pm. A good number already share in this aspect of ministry and it would be lovely to strengthen the voice of prayer with you coming to join us.
If you would like to explore your prayer life in more detail do please feel free to contact me or one of the other members of the ministry team, or another person you trust. Such a step could be vital in the renewal of your Christian life. For there is no more necessary step to be taken in any renewal than that of taking God more seriously. Do come and join us.