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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.
Support PC(USA) lectionary resources
Make a donation to support the development of new lectionary-based resources for study, worship, and prayer.
I know you're well aware of the clamor for an Android version. The last post I saw showed estimated availability in first quarter 2013. Since we're in the midst of first quarter, do you have an update for us? I'm not regular about getting out the iPad. From the UCC - thanks!
Is there any way the Psalm Schedule from the Company of Pastors can be included so all the psalms are used?
My ap also goes to evening in the morning and has done so for about a week. I do change it to morning, but the next day it is back again to is own thing. I also am appreciating the ap enormously, despite any bugs. i especailly like the rotation of the Thanksgiving and intercessory prayer.
This morning my app opened to EVENING prayer, and I can't find a way to get to morning prayer. Any thoughts? (I do love this app, though, despite some bugs.)
Glad to have found this app. I've been using a daily prayer app created by a layperson based on the Book of Common Prayer from the 1920s, and am glad to have the NRSV at my fingertips. The tutorial said there are different levels available: beginner, intermediate and advanced. How do I set those options? Or is it just a matter of selecting one or two psalms and the canticles under options?