Ever since the earliest days, Christians have gathered together to pray and worship at certain times of each day. In the Early Church, Christians stopped to pray five times a day. But for much of the history of the church, faithful Christians have, at a minimum, structured their day around three times of prayer: Morning, Midday and Evening (often called the “Daily Office” or the “Divine Hours”). This goes back to the Jewish tradition of prayer that most scholars believe Jesus would have practiced. For 2,000 years, these times of prayer and worship have functioned as a tangible reminder for Christians to seek first the Kingdom of God and to arrange their daily life in reference to Christ.
These times of prayer were usually not very lengthy - sometimes only 7-10 minutes. They always included Psalms and other scripture readings in addition to some short formal prayers of confession, thanksgiving, intercession and the Lord’s Prayer (Our Father). These times of prayer were usually done together with others and involved praying outloud in a responsive form. Christians would often utilize body postures and gestures (like “crossing” oneself) and sometimes sing (if appropriate) in order to involve body, mind and spirit in prayer. Last but not least, these times of prayer included space for spontaneous and personal requests and thanksgiving as well as usually some time for silence. Millions of Christians have found these times of prayer immeasurably valuable as they grew in faith and love for Christ. Additionally, these times of prayer proved valuable in establishing a culture in which it was “normal” to pray together. Everybody knew how it worked and could easily join in.
For many Christians today, this way of praying or conceiving of prayer is somewhat foreign. It can feel a bit formulaic or constricting to some at first. However, if you are patient, this way of prayer can function like a trellis for the vine of your personal prayers to grow on. It can actually make your spontaneous times of prayer richer and more personal. Over time people who pray this way discover that the words of scripture begin to shape them as they marinate in them each day. Many of us need to be broken free from our compulsive need to make everything about us and our “feelings”. Using the discipline of praying at fixed times, using words given to you, is a way of reminding yourself that it’s “not about you.” These times of prayer call us to arrange our life in reference to God - humbly worshipping Him rather than merely using Him as a means to the fulfillment of our needs and desires.
You just need to follow along with the book (or website) provided for you. If you can read, you can do this. And, there’s no performance in this. It’s just offering yourself in prayer and worship to God. You can’t “mess up”. Midday prayer takes about 7-10 minutes and it doesn’t require that you say anything except what’s written - unless you’d like to add your own prayers of thanksgiving or requests at the appropriate time (alternatively, you can just remain silent which is also appropriate).
One inspiring thought for you to consider as we pray together is this: hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) of people around the world will be praying these same prayers with us today. We’re merely joining in with the global, historic Church in worshipping and loving Christ.
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