Posts Tagged ‘fixed hour prayer’

Tuesday, July 28, 2020


Liturgy of the Hours – Part II

Peter went up to the roof terrace to pray at about noontime.

Sext is the traditional noontime prayer and those who are frequent visitors of The Noontimes gather petitions to send on to God.  This pause in the middle of the day can steady frayed nerves and give us courage.  Pausing to relieve the tensions we experience in the living of ordinary lives, we place the burden of our worries precisely where they belong . . . in God’s capable and loving hands.

The None or Nones prayers are gathered at 3:00 p.m. and when we read scripture carefully we discover that the apostles maintained the Jewish tradition of going up to the Temple at this hour to pray.  In Acts 3 we read a delightful story of God entering into Peter and John’s lives in an amazing way when they go up to the temple area to pray at the three o’clock hour of prayer.  We modern-day disciples are given the chance to join our prayers with others as this mid afternoon hour moves from east to west around the globe . . . and to ask for our own amazing experience.

Sext at noon and None as we reach the middle of the afternoon, these prayer intervals interrupt the denser part of the work day and ask us to pause either for a sliver of a moment or for a half hour or hour, whatever is practical in our lives.  Sext and None, keeping us anchored as we bring our work to God. Sext and None, guiding us through hectic and perhaps tense hours. Sext and None . . . preparing us for our return home to take refuge before night closes us in.

These two afternoon intervals, along with their sisters in this rhythmic cycle of prayer, bring to us an opening to God’s presence in a special way.  Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, Nones, Vespers or Evensong, and ComplineThese invitations to join the faithful in prayer lifted to the Creator are ours.  These opportunities each day and night as a call to bring our sorrows and joys to God are ours.  These petitions and offertories we bring forward as our hopes and dreams regularly and faithfully are the heartbeats of the Spirit that unite us.

Whenever and wherever possible let us pause, if even only for a moment, at these appointed times to join our sisters and brothers in Christ because in this way we will come to more completely understand that we are never alone. In this way we more intensely feel that we are always accompanied.  And in this way we more fully join the chorus that rises like incense to God in a powerful cascade of love and prayer.

We can spend time on with The Story of the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate in Acts 3.

Image from: http://dailytimewithgod.com/?p=3907

To read about research that investigates the power of prayer, go to: http://content.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,193084,00.html

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Monday, July 27, 2020

Ephesians 5:19-20

Liturgy of the Hours – Part I

breathe[1]Be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praying to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father. 

The liturgical observation of Canonical Hours has its origin in the old Judaic tradition of praying seven times in the twenty-four hour cycle as Psalm 119:164 tells us: Seven times a day do I praise you. With the rise of Christianity and its spread through the Roman Empire, these seven prayer intervals, or eight if both Prime and Lauds are prayed at separate intervals, have come to us through the ages.  We have spent time reflecting about Lauds, Vespers and Compline.  Today we take another look at how we might join our voices at other times of the day and night when we know that millions around the globe are praying.  In this small way we take our large and little problems to God . . . to find solace and peace in troubled times.

The Night Watch Prayer is sometimes referred to as Matins and is prayed at any hour between 2 a.m. and sunrise.  We know that the early apostles prayed throughout the day and night as we read in Acts 16:25-26: About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened, there was suddenly such a great earthquake that the foundations of the jail shook; all the doors flew open, and the chains of all were pulled loose. When we awake in the middle of the night there is a certain comfort in remembering this story of the jailed disciples whom God miraculously freed.  We also find a certain peace in offering our petitions when we know that millions in other time zones gather during their waking hours to pray the daytime offices.  In this way we join our own prayer to the cascade of prayer lifted to God without ceasing. 

The Prayer of Terce is traditionally prayed at 9:00 a.m. at the time when modern-day employees typically arrive in their offices.  If we find ourselves in difficult workplaces we might seek a few trusted colleagues who will agree to pause at an appointed morning hour to quietly petition God for the repair of the broken places in our offices, and to give us the insight we need to better understand the cold hearts and stiff necks of stubborn co-workers.  This agreed upon appointment with God does not require that we physically gather; the mingling of our prayers from our separate cubicles or offices in a common call for goodness is pleasing to God who loves to see faithful children come together in any way they can to ask for justice and mercy.

Matins, early in the morning when we cannot sleep or when we awake, and Terce, as the working part of our day begins . . . we must remember God in all we ask.  We must call on God with all we say.  And we must live in God in all we do.

So let us join our voices with the millions that rise to God at Matins or Terce, and let us be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and praying to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father.   Amen.

The Benedictus, Magnificat and Compline posts earlier this week describe other times in the cycle of prayer or conversation with God.  Tomorrow, the prayers of Sext and None  For more information on fixed hour prayer, this constant dialog with God at regular intervals, go to: http://www.explorefaith.org/prayer/prayer/fixed/index.php  

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Saturday, December 7, 2013

Canticle of Zechariah

Zechariah and the Angel Gabriel

Luke 1:57-80, 2:29-32


When we pray the Liturgy of the Hours we participate in the rhythmic repetition of the morning and evening canticles that we find here in Luke.  They – along with the presentation of petition, glorification and thanksgiving through the psalms – give our days and nights a deep sense of tranquility.  These times of meditation and contemplation create the pathways through which God speaks.  The heart, in this way, willingly readies the soul in hospitality for the reception of the Holy Spirit and the presence of Christ.  Prayer cleanses the mind, prepares the spirit and animates the heart for the reception of God’s revelation to us.  Nothing can be more important for it is our intentional and incidental prayers that bring us sanity and serenity.  These canticles of praise help us to travel through our days, our years, our lives.

No one experiences life without feeling distress and anxiety, and it is when we turn to God – the source of all that is good – that we are healed, lifted up, salvaged and restored.  When we allow harm to transform us through our grieving and our trust in God, we find the joy expressed in the canticles we read today.  We also find reason to celebrate God’s salvific love.

Champaigne: Visitation The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

Champaigne: Visitation
The Canticle of Mary or the Magnificat

These canticles sung by Zechariah who finds his voice after the loss of speech, and by Mary, who anticipated greatest joy and greatest sorrow, are meant to carry us from sun up to sun down continually.  The canticle of Simeon, which the Liturgy of the Hours designates as part of the Night Prayer, is an anthem of gratitude, and together these songs can bracket our goings and our comings, they can guide our days and nights, they can fill us with hope and trust in God.

When we sit with Jeremiah 20:10-13, Psalm 18, and John 10:31-42 we can see how we too might sing canticles of praise for God’s providence as we move from dread to joy.

I hear the whisperings of many: “Terror on every side!  Denounce!  let us denounce him!”  All those who were my friends are on the watch for any misstep of mine . . . In my time of distress I called upon the Lord, and he heard my voice . . . From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears . . . The Jews picked up rocks to stone Jesus.  Jesus answered them . . . “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father”.  Then they tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power.

The Prophets Simeon and Anna with the Christ Child

The Prophets Simeon and Anna
with the Christ Child

And so we pray . . .

God is in his temple and he hears my voice, it reaches his ears . . . we are the temple in which God resides, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

They tried again to arrest him; but he escaped from their power . . . we have nothing to fear when we walk in the way which is lighted by the light of Christ.

Sing to the Lord, praise the Lord! For He has delivered the soul of the needy one . . . we have everything to gain when we live in God.

As we begin our Advent journey, let us sing these canticles at dawn, at the setting of the sun, and when we lie down to rest.  And as we escape from the power of terror’s grip and watch it melt away, let us turn to God in all things, in all ways, at all times . . . and let us sing our canticle of joy.  Amen.

Adapted from a reflection written on April 3, 2009.

To explore these songs of praise and what they can mean to us, click on the images above or go to The Liturgy of the Hours page on this blog.

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