The Daily Office: Seminarian’s Best Friend
For my seminary Internship, each semester we have a different spiritual practice to engage in for the semester. The goal is to expose different people to different ways of engaging God in a deep way so that as they step out in ministry, they have these “tools” in their proverbial ministerial tool belt.
This semester, we’re focusing on the Daily Office, the pattern of prayer and devotion that comes from the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer (BCP).
I’ve used the BCP before, especially in college, and it’s incredibly beautiful and powerful. But back when I tried it, there weren’t many sites/apps/tutorials to understand exactly how to use it, and the page-flipping gymnastics necessary can both distract from prayer and aren’t very practical in an e-book world.
Now though, coming back to it years later, and during seminary, I have found it to be such a place of refreshment for my soul. Also, there are all these helpful tools to make it as seamless as possible.
But more than that, for seminarians in particular, I think this can be such a helpful resource for us. It engages your whole self—mind, body, and soul (I only recently found out that the little asterisks at the end of some lines are meant to indicate places where you’re supposed to stand!), so whatever faculty is your weakest in engaging God, it gets a good exercise with the Daily Prayer Office.
I’ve written at length about how seminary can challenge one’s engagement with Scripture. As you study and immerse yourself in the human-ness of the text, its “other-worldly” character can lose its luster. In the Daily Office, however, it is a genuinely devotional use of Scripture that is awash in prayer in such a way that it quiets those voices going through my head. Perhaps it can for you also as you continue your studies. Here are a few good resources if in helping shape and form your time in the The Daily Office:
What you need:
- You can actually purchase a physical Book of Common Prayer in various styles and colors
- There is also the free online BCP that even has the page numbers intact in case you are following a guide or tutorial that requires particular pages
If you don’t know what to do:
- You can just Google others, but I found these two tutorials clear: The Daily Office Tutorial and How to Pray the Daily Office
- If you’re more of an audio learner, the executive director of my own seminary program recorded a casual, conversational audio walk through the book itself to help acclimate one to the Book, its parts, its features, and its usage. I got his permission to post this audio.
- There also numerous YouTube tutorials as well
Making it easy:
The Daily Office is incredibly flexible and can be as long or short as you want it to be. Here are resources and various takes on it to make this as seamless as possible, especially in the busy digital age. Admittedly, these are all websites. I’ve still yet to find a mobile app that makes the Daily Office simple and beautiful. If you know of any, let me know! In the meantime:
- The simple: The site MorningPrayer.is is by far the simplest way to get into the Daily Office. Nothing to click, no options to tweak, no options to choose from. You go to one site each day and its updated with the simplest liturgy with the readings all up there. Bookmark the site, go, and scroll. That’s it.
- The standard: The most widely-used website for the Daily Office is by The Mission of St. Clare. It also has other prayers and different options (Noon prayer, Evening prayer, etc). Each month they put out a Kindle book (under downloads) that makes it super simple. Just flip through the pages of the book and it progresses through each day’s prayers and readings, following the usual, full, traditional liturgy of prayer, including the readings for each day. No flipping to different sections. It’s all right there. This Kindle book is how I do the Office.
- The advanced: The Saint Bede’s Breviary is only for those that really love this stuff. It’s not for the faint of heart. You’ll see that there are many orders for prayer throughout the Christian Church family. Using this site, you can set a bunch of parameters (which style, how long, which prayers to include, which Bible translation to use, etc.), and then it spite out your requested order for prayer. There are a lot of terms, tweaks, and such that I don’t know the meaning of, but for those of you looking for a whole other level of engagement with this way of praying, this is the site for you.