At the end of July 2015, I went to Goodwill to snoop around. After looking at some merchandise, I found a copy of ‘Shorter Christian Prayer’ that looked very new and bought it for $1.25. Since then, I have tried my best to say at least one set of Morning, Evening or Night Prayer each day and I have committed myself to it until this day.
‘Shorter Christian Prayer’ is a condensed version of a whole series called the ‘Liturgy of the Hours’, ‘Liturgia Horarium’ in Latin or also known as the ‘Divine Office’. The Liturgy of the Hours is the prayer of the universal church. Ordained ministers and religious brothers and sisters are required to say these prayers every single day as they say these prayers on behalf of all the people of God. The Liturgy of the Hours traced back long ago, when Christians wanted people to praise God all the time, 24/7. People took turns saying psalms so that God’s name may always be glorified each day. That evolved into the practice of the Liturgy of the Hours.
The Liturgy of the Hours ensures that God’s name is glorified at all times and that our day revolves around prayer. Each prayer set is consisted of a hymn, two psalms and psalm prayer, a canticle, a reading, a responsory, a Gospel canticle, a set of intercessions, an Our Father and a concluding prayer. Some readings and prayers change according to season or feast day.
I have found some more spiritual strength each day through the Liturgy of the Hours. Sometimes, the readings or prayer matches something that I needed that day or something a friend might need. It is my strength each day. By taking approximately 15 minutes each day to pray and reflect on the readings and knowing that there are other clergy and religious from another part of the world praying the same prayers at the same time makes me feel that prayer is universal. There are people praying with me, praying and glorifying one true God.
Even though laypeople are not obligated to pray the Liturgy of the Hours, I strongly encourage it. Purchase a copy of Shorter Christian Prayer, or if you have more time, a full copy of the Liturgy of the Hours or access it online. Set aside 15 minutes each day and try to pray one set of the hours, either in the Morning, Evening or Night. Once you are used to the “beat” of the prayer, try and add one more set of prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours will for sure enhance your spiritual life!
“The celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours demands not only harmonizing the voice with the praying heart, but also a deeper “understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the Psalms.”(CCC 1176)
Video presentation on how to do the Liturgy of the Hours by the Daughters of St. Paul:
How to use your Breviary: