Currently at Morning Prayer each day we are reading the Book of Genesis, and this week we continue to enjoy the story of Joseph's life. As the plot unfolds each day, we witness the drama, passion, humor, and tragedy of the Bible, and one can sense from those gathered a great interest in following the event's of Joseph's life. It is a captivating story, and such Biblical stories give Morning Prayer a renewed interest. It is like watching a great TV show each morning in the middle of one's daily prayers.
Saying the Daily Office each day while hearing the words from Sacred Scriptures is one of the great hallmarks of Anglican spirituality. For my own prayer practice, I try to say Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer every day. If I miss a day for some reason, I do try to go back and read the scripture passages I missed. Doing so allows me to read several strands of the Bible at any given time. If you are currently reading the Daily Office lectionary, you are reading the Gospel of Mark, Genesis, 1st Corinthians, and Jeremiah. Over the course of two years, by praying the Daily Office, one encounters a large amount of the Bible.
I also greatly appreciate the rhythm of Morning and Evening Prayer, and I especially like that I do not have to come up with something creative each day for my personal prayers. It is helpful to simply enter into the prayer that Christians have prayed throughout the ages. The Daily Office connects me with Christians from before and after my particular life.
That being said, even though saying the Daily Office is perhaps the most fundamental cornerstone of Anglican spirituality, the Daily Office will not appeal to every Episcopalian. Some will find the daily services of Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer to be a bit cumbersome. Such persons may prefer to do a simpler form of intercessory prayer; others may prefer to sit in silence. The important thing is that we all try to pray daily. At St. Mark's, where we are fortunate to have the daily mass, for some this is their mode of daily prayer - receiving the Eucharist.
Even if you do not say Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer daily, I do commend to you the Daily Office scripture readings. Whereas we all might have different prayer practices, all of us should read scripture regularly. One can still read the Bible passages from the Daily Office without doing the Anglican prayer services. I find that my Bible knowledge increases greatly every year I continue to read the Daily Office readings - you can access them here if you are interested. You only need about five minutes a day to complete these readings. Of course, you might choose to read the Bible in a different way, and that is fine too.
As we deepen our faith this Lent, two of the basic practices we are called to do as Christians are prayer and Bible reading. If we accomplish nothing more than this - increasing our Bible reading and our practice of prayer - than we will have a fruitful Lent which will continue into Easter.
Father Paul Lillie+