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In Israel’s worship, daily hours were set aside for sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. Even after the loss of the Temple, morning, noon, and evening were established times for prayer. Jesus set aside regular times for prayer, and the believing community gathered daily for prayer in the Temple, in an upper room, and in their homes. New Testament writers exhorted the Church to pray without ceasing. Through the ages, the Church has maintained special hours for daily prayer, historically known as the daily office.
The Reformed tradition adapted the pattern of the daily office, to provide an occasion not only for prayer but also for the public reading and expounding of Scripture. Daily public worship is to be commended as a dimension of the life and witness of the church as it ministers in and to the community. Changing patterns of life have also led to the expression of daily prayer in family and personal devotion, which are encouraged as a part of the regular discipline of the Christian life. (W-1.3012)
There are three basic ingredients in each service: psalms, readings, and prayer. The services begin and end with sentences of Scripture and may include other elements such as hymns and biblical songs (canticles), confessional or devotional reading, and the thanksgiving for light (in evening prayer).
If you are praying alone or if circumstances require a shorter service, you may wish to focus on the basic ingredients: a psalm, a Scripture reading, and a prayer.
Praying the psalms
The psalms are a school of prayer. They inspire and challenge us to expand our horizons of thanksgiving and praise, and to be honest and bold in seeking God’s help in times of trouble. You may wish to read or chant the psalms aloud, or meditate on them in silence; whatever you do, approach them as prayer.
The morning and evening psalms of the two-year Daily Lectionary are provided on the PC(USA) Devotions and Readings page. The Company of Pastors offers another schedule for praying the psalms, one that allows for the use of all 150 psalms in an eight-week period.
In the words of Scripture we encounter the living Word of God—Jesus Christ, who speaks good news of grace. Through these words God imparts the gift of faith and instills the call to faithfulness.
Lectionaries offer a disciplined and organized way to read Scripture in concert with the larger church. Many find it useful to follow the two-year Daily Lectionary, which allows one to read through much of the Old Testament (once) and New Testament (twice) in a two-year period.
Thanksgiving and intercession
As we respond to the Word with thanksgiving and intercession, daily prayer shapes Christian life. We learn the habit of gratitude for God’s grace; we learn to seek and trust God’s saving power.
The Book of Common Worship—Daily Prayer provides simple prayers of thanksgiving and intercession for each day of the week. The daily framework of petitions offers a systematic and disciplined way to pray for the church, the world, the local community, and personal needs. Other joys and concerns, specific to the individual or congregation, should be added; or you may wish to use these prayers as a starting point or model for extemporaneous prayer.
Developing a practice
Remember that daily communion with God is meant to be a gift (not a chore), and that the habit of prayer is a lifelong practice (not a perfectionist pursuit). Don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t come easily at first; trust that God has begun a good work in you.
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I was thinking about what you said, David, this a.m. before I saw your post. When we're baptized, we detach (like Velcro strips) from sin and its ways and attach ourselves to God's Way in Christ. Daily prayer gives me something practical to attach myself to instead of just my own random thoughts in prayer. As important as that is, too, I find it helps to have the discipline, and I love engaging in it and talking about the lection(s) read together, even if it's just two of us gathered. My spirit is enlarged by this practice in Word and Spirit.
An update: thanks to your outcry (yes, we have heard your voice), we've asked for the Android ap to be fasttracked. We knew all along that there are more of you than iPhone users, but we don't have the technological control over these things, and evidently iPhone apps are easier to create?
I use andriod and have been looking for something like this. How about an andriod version, please?
A liturgical daily discipline opens the door to the Spirit in a different way from informal prayers. I look forward to returning to this practice!
We received a lot of queries about Android, but I just approved this one randomly. The answer is that it's in the works. Stay tuned.