Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Praying the Divine Office Daily. A Benedictine oblate blog

I work on ways to organize my time so I can pray more of the divine office during the day. I seldom am able to pray more than one or two of the offices during a day — but I am constantly working on the priority in my heart.

Starting Prayer.

Sometimes I am too tired to pray. I received some good advice on what to do in this situation. The abbot at St. Leo Abbey gave the oblates a good tip when he suggested when we don’t feel like praying a divine office (especially when we are very tired). The wise abbot said we should first just stop and quietly wait for several minutes rather than thinking we need to move immediately from working into praying. He said that if we just stop and wait, in a little while we will be able to pray with renewed energy and willingness.
Stopping Work.
Sometimes I have the opposite problem that also diverts me from praying — plenty of energy and desire to work work work to get things accomplished during the day. Trying to set fixed times of prayer (like monks have) has never worked during the week for me and often does not work on the weekend either when I start long projects and don’t want to stop. I am not able to stop at 9:00 am each day, for example, to do Terce (one of the little hours of the divine office.)

And using natural breaks in my work flow has not been as effective as I had thought it would be — I tend to just go on to the next work item without taking the time to pray the divine office.

Today, I reoriented my thinking a bit which helped me pray more of the divine offices during the day. I kept in my mind all day that I had in fact scheduled a time to pray — but that the appointed time for each part of the divine office was not fixed to a specific time, but the "time to pray" floated with me all during the day. Stopping to pray the divine office during the day was a planned and scheduled activity that was pinned to my day rather than to a set time.

This change in the way I thought about my time to pray actually worked OK. I had just the right frame of mind to stop for several of the divine offices during today. As I came to the end of a task, my mind immediately latched on to “my next appointment” which was that floating divine office that I had “scheduled” as part of the day’s work. This helped me give the right priority to the divine office during a busy day while also allowing for all the flexibility I need in doing my work.
These are two tips that seem to work for me.

I have come to the end of this blog and am going to my next task tonight, “Oh, I see I have a scheduled item. It's the appointed time for compline.”


Picture is Blue Balloon by winjohn


  1. Hi John, Haven't commented for a while but still read your blog often. One thing I have tried is setting the alarm on my cell phone. It's not that I immediately pray when the alarm goes off but it reminds my mind of what my heart desires. So, I attempt to quit what I am doing but even if I am not able to, I think of God...which is a good thing.

  2. Thanks catd for the tip. The cell phone is perfect especially when away from the office or home. Keeping God at the front of my mind is the first step to better praying the divine office --- good reminder.

  3. Not to try to distract you from the Office, but the Jesus Prayer can easily be said during odd moments of "empty" time. After a while it becomes habitual and pretty much second nature.

  4. Joe, Thanks and I can see that it would not distract, but help focus. Good idea. And, for those people who do not know what the Jesus Prayer is, I suggest they read your blog, Jesus Prayer.