I was introduced to the Daily Office on the weekend retreats, I went on with Joyce Huggett, following on from her course on Listening Prayer. We went initially to Mount Saint Bernard Abbey in Leicestershire, or to the Convent of St Laurence in Derbyshire (this has now closed). Arriving on Friday early evening and leaving after lunch on Sunday. We joined in with some of the Daily Offices, but to be honest I do not recall any of us arising in time for Vigils at 3.30am at Mount St Bernard Abbey!
When we moved to Bangladesh to live in Dhaka, I found the change in pace and lifestyle took some getting used to! I went from a season of intense activity and preparation for the move, while caring for my primary aged children alone (my husband having gone ahead to start his new job) to one where I had no job and very little to do! My husband was at work, my children were at school, we had a cook who did the shopping, as well as the cooking and an ayah who took care of the cleaning/laundry.
As I adapted to the new pattern of life I found that my rhythm of prayer disappeared too! It was a season of change on all fronts! It was at this point that I began to use a book, which I think was called Common Worship, that had the Anglican Daily Office – Morning Prayer, Midday Prayer and Evening Prayer, in both full and abridged formats.
While so much around me was new and different, I found the structure was really helpful in enabling me to maintain my focus on God. The rhythm that the Daily Office gave me, carried me through those early months and once I became more settled, so a different pattern of prayer emerged and I put the Daily Office to one side.
“Where does 40 days or years come in?” I hear you ask!! Well, I am coming to that now!
Fast forward through the years to last summer. Looking at Twitter one day I spotted a tweet from Dan Wilt, “the designer and creator of the respected Essentials In Worship Video Course”, recommending a book called, “Day by Day – A 40-Day Journey with the Daily Office” by Peter Scazzero.
I do not know if you have ever had the experience of seeing or reading about a book and you just know you need to read it? Well, I felt compelled to get the book and to read it! I began it on a silent retreat and felt quite bereft when I finished it.
The assumption behind the book is that, in the midst of our ever increasingly busy lives, many of us are physically, emotionally and spiritually tired and struggling to find time to be with God. The purpose of the book is to introduce people to the ancient spiritual discipline called the “Daily Office.” The Daily Office provides a way for us to intentionally stop and be with God more than once a day, in order that practising the presence of God becomes real in our lives.
While in the Monastic tradition, the Benedictine Rule has around 8 Daily Offices, Peter Scazzero only provides two in his book, in order to avoid the Daily Office becoming a ‘new legalism.’ There is great flexibility in his approach – you can choose whether to do the Daily Office in the morning and midday, or at midday and in the evening and the length of time you spend on it, is for you to choose.
The structure of each Office is the same, beginning and ending with stillness:
- Stillness and Silence,
- Reading Scripture
- Devotional Reading
- Questions to consider
- Stillness and Silence
Once again I found myself in a season of change and transition and the Daily Office provided a format and structure which carried me through!
I will tell you about my experience of this in the next letter.
I invite you to take a 40 day journey with the Daily Office!