Not only with our lips, but in our lives

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The Prayers

This morning we look at the third and final section of the Daily Office.

Having “opened our lips,” prayed the Invitatory and other Psalms, read Lessons and responded with Canticles, and said the Apostles’ Creed, we conclude the Office with various Prayers.

Because the Daily Office is the public worship of the Church, the prayers in this section are more formal, like the Prayers of the People on Sunday morning. They serve the same purpose of reminding us to pray for people and concerns we might not otherwise remember.

There is certainly also room here for your own personal prayers of intercession and thanksgiving.

Let’s take each portion in turn.

The Lord’s Prayer

If you’re praying the Office alone, you can omit the opening sentence and response (BCP 97).

The Lord’s Prayer is offered in traditional and contemporary language. Since every parish I have served uses the traditional form in worship, I like to use the contemporary form when I pray the Office; it helps keep the words fresh for me.

Suffrages

These are like miniature Prayers of the People, with versicles and responses touching on the major topics of our intercessory prayer.

Say Suffrages A most mornings; according to liturgical scholar Derek Olsen, Suffrages B were traditionally attached to the Te Deum (Canticle 21) and are most appropriately used when you have used that Canticle at Morning Prayer.

When I say Evening Prayer, I like to use Suffrages B, which in that Office take the form of a litany “that this evening may be holy, good, and peaceful” (BCP 122).

The Collect of the Day

It is customary to pray three collects at each office: The Collect of the Day, the Collect of the Day of the Week, and a Prayer for Mission.

The Collect of the Day is usually the collect from the Sunday before; so this week it would be the Collect for the First Sunday of Advent (BCP 211). Basically, you use Sunday’s collect all through the week here.

Exceptions to that rule are on Major Feasts, when you use the Collect appointed for that particular feast instead. For example, on Saturday, December 21 — the Feast of St. Thomas the Apostle — you would use the Collect for that day (BCP 237) instead of the Collect for the Third Sunday of Advent. See the Calendar of the Church Year (BCP 15-33) for all the details of Major Feasts and other observances.

On days like today, when a saint (St. John of Damascus) is simply commemorated on the calendar (BCP 30), you might say the Collect of the Day from Sunday, and then add an appropriate collect from the Common of Saints (BCP 245 and following).

Many more exceptions abound, and we don’t need to belabor that point here. The Collect of the Day — the first of the three at the Office — is usually from the Sunday before, and it helps carry the “theme” or flavor of the Sunday throughout the week.

Collect of the Day of the Week

On BCP 98-100 you will notice seven Collects printed. Three are labeled for Sundays, Fridays, and Saturdays. The remaining four are labeled by topic, such as “For Peace” or “For Renewal of Life.” It is customary to use these four on the other days of the week, like this:

Sunday – A Collect for Sundays
Monday – A Collect for the Renewal of Life
Tuesday – A Collect for Peace
Wednesday – A Collect for Grace
Thursday – A Collect for Guidance
Friday – A Collect for Fridays
Saturday – A Collect for Saturdays

The Sunday, Friday, and Saturday collects clearly bring the themes of Resurrection, Crucifixion, and Creation/Sabbath to our prayers on those days. Just as every Sunday is a celebration of the Resurrection, a little Easter, so every Friday is a Good Friday, and every Saturday a chance to rest from our work and “put away all earthly anxieties” (BCP 99).

The same pattern for Collects of the Day of the Week occurs in Evening Prayer.

Prayer for Mission

The rubrics allow for the Daily Office to serve as the opening portion of the Eucharist (like the Liturgy of the Word in a typical Sunday service). They also allow for the use of one of the forms of Prayers of the People, like those on BCP 383 and following.

If you aren’t doing either of those things, then the third collect at the Office is one of the Prayers for Mission. The prayer at the top of BCP 101 is especially suitable for use on Friday mornings, of course. In Evening Prayer, there are three different Prayers for Mission, too.

After the three collects — the Collect of the Day, the Collect of the Day of the Week, and the Prayer for Mission — you may take time to add your own prayers.

Many people use cycles of prayer, like the Anglican Cycle of Prayer or a diocesan cycle, to help them remember to pray for other members of our church family. Many also take some time for silent prayer or meditation here.

The General Thanksgiving

This prayer of thanksgiving has one of the longest pedigrees in our prayer book history, having been composed in 1596. Then, as now, cultivating an attitude of humility and being mindful of God’s blessings is central to our spiritual growth.

We pray that our gratitude will be “not only with our lips, but in our lives, by giving up our selves to [God’s] service” (BCP 101).

A Prayer of St. Chrysostom

Even if you say the Office alone, you are joining in the Church’s unceasing praise and taking your part in the communion of saints.

The Prayer of St. Chrysostom is a beautiful reminder that when we gather for prayer, Christ is in our midst.

Dismissal

 

If you’re saying the Office alone, you may omit the dismissal.

Closing Sentences

The Office ends, as it began and as it has been filled throughout, with the words of Scripture.

There are three verses here that you may use to conclude your prayer.

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I hope you have found these last four blog posts helpful, whether you are beginning to pray the Offices or have been using this part of the Church’s pattern for prayer for some time already.

Like many things in life, it takes a lot longer to explain the Daily Office that it does simply to do it. Many people find that they need only 20-30 minutes to pray the Office — the Invitatory and Psalter, the Lessons, and the Prayers. Twenty minutes, once or twice a day, is not a lot of time — but it can be an oasis of grace and peace in our otherwise busy lives.

My hope is that understanding how the Office is put together will help you feel more comfortable using it.

Every blessing!

 

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