Drawing from the ancient monastic tradition of “praying the hours,” the Daily Prayer for All Seasons offers eight short, simple services for praying at various times throughout the day: Lauds (dawn/waking up), Prime (morning/ start of day), Terce (mid-morning), Sext (mid-day), None (afternoon), Vespers (dusk/end of day), Compline (night/ bedtime), and Vigils (late night). In addition, a particular “labor” is assigned to each of the services as a way to assist readers in developing a healthy pattern of work and prayer.
The book comes out of the Office of the General Convention and was compiled by a diverse team of people throughout The Episcopal Church. In the introduction the writers encourage readers to use the book within their own context:
Don’t be intimidated by the hours as we’ve labeled them. Maybe your day ‘starts’ at the crack of noon or your bedtime comes after the night shift; maybe the end of your workday marks only the beginning of meetings for another part of your life. It’s all right to adjust the prayers to the day as you live it, no matter how topsyturvy it seems.
To enrich the experience of the reader, the services are spread over the seven seasons of the liturgical year (Advent, Christmas, the Season after Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and two sets for the Season after Pentecost—one focusing on the theme of Creation and the other focusing on a theme of rest).
Each seasonal service offers meditations, prayers, and seasonally appropriate readings from scripture. For example, the scripture reading offered for the mid-morning service in the season of Advent is Isaiah 40:3-5: “A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God…’”
The scripture reading for the same service time during the Christmas season is John 1:14, 16, 18: “And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth….”
This resource might be particularly helpful for those who have difficulty reading the longer forms of the Daily Office in The Book of Common Prayer. Although most of the services included in the book are intended for group use, they may easily be adapted for private use.
The Rev. Eric Mancil, is a senior at Virginia Theological Seminary and a deacon from the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast.