Pray Without Ceasing: The Liturgy of the Hours

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thes 5:16-18)

In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus tells his disciples how to pray using the most common form of Christian prayer: “Our Father who art in heaven …” St. Paul, in his first letter to the Thessalonians, encourages us to “Pray without ceasing.” The Church has combined both of those instructions into one, universal prayer we call the Liturgy of the Hours. Each day, clergy (i.e., bishops, priests and deacons) and other religious are obligated to pray the Liturgy of the Hours (also referred to as the Divine Office and Breviary). As deacons, we are obligated to pray both Morning and Evening Prayer of the Divine Office.

The practice of praying these prayers is not limited clergy and religious. The laity is encouraged to also pray the prayers of the Church, and many do. The challenge, I think, is learning how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.

At first, flipping back and forth in the prayer book can be a daunting task. I find it can also be a challenge to pray the Liturgy of the Hours by myself (I prefer praying it with others in community). But don’t let that stop you from trying it. There are severally really good resources on the Internet to help you learn to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and there are several good recordings to listen to someone else lead you in this prayer. My favorite resource is Pray Station Portable. This site allows me to download Morning and Evening Prayers onto my iPod to take with me, and allows me to listen to the same prayers on their Internet site (see link on my Home Page to access Pray Station Portable). You can also Google the phrase “Liturgy of the Hours” to find free resources to allow you to read the prayers as well.

If you are looking for a way to improve your prayer life, you might consider listening to and praying the Liturgy of the Hours. Twice a day, for less than 15 minutes at a time, you can engage in prayer that will help you connect with your Christian community, and will help build up the Church. Try it, I’m certain you will like it!

Be at peace and know that you are loved!

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