Note: During Lent, we will feature guest blog posts from members of Restoration who are exploring the Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer. Hopefully, these reflections will be an encouragement to you in your own prayer life during this season. Thanks to Erin Turner for this contribution that was first published on her blog.
When I first joined the Anglican church, I didn’t know much about it. I had attended a few Anglican services and loved the rhythm of them, so I kept going.
Gradually, I became aware of this thing called the Daily Office, which was in the Book of Common Prayer.
Growing up, I had always been told to have a “quiet time” with God. Since it was personal, you were supposed to figure out what worked for you, but it generally included reading the Bible, praying, and journaling. I was always told that mornings were best, so you could start your day on the right foot.
Though I always wanted to establish this kind of habit, I floundered with such vague guidelines. I never knew what to read or how much and my prayers sounded like to-go orders (yes, God, I’d like healing for X and blessings for her and …). Journaling tended to veer off into whining. And unless I “got something out of it” I felt like it wasn’t done right. That was the goal, wasn’t it? Building your faith?
Some people may be suspicious of reading prayers out of the BCP; I love it. There, in front of me, is a template of scripture reading, of prayers that are focused on God and others, not me.
What has helped me even more is the underlying concept: whether you are praying at home or at a church service, there are thousands of people all around the world doing the same thing with you, reading the same scripture, praying the same prayers. Instead of being an isolated, pressured system, it’s communal, even if you’re doing it by yourself.
The daily cycle of prayer has been freeing and nourishing. Every day, there are four times of prayer. If I plan to do one, and miss it, there’s another in a few hours I can ‘catch.’ No problem. And the flexibility fits my crazy schedule. Sometimes I do a full-on Evening Prayer; sometimes I read Compline in bed and pick one of the scripture readings to tag on. Sometimes I pray Noon Prayer before a class comes in because I’m feeling frazzled. Sometimes I take five minutes. Sometimes I end up praying or journaling for much longer.
I almost never do Morning Prayer because I am NOT a morning person. And that’s okay.
Praying the Daily Office has given me the right amount of structure and flexibility. It takes away the pressure of doing things “right” or having a “good” prayer time. And as the language, so rooted in Scripture, becomes more rooted in me, it flows out at other times, too, enabling me to walk in an attitude of prayer even outside those prayer times. In other words, even on the days I don’t feel like I got anything out of it, it’s building my faith.
I feel like it also bears mentioning that I am hardly consistent. Don’t imagine me as this super-together, super-spiritual person. I’m definitely not. . 🙂