We are wrapping up a blog series on the Daily Office, asking Restoration members how they learned to pray the Daily Office and how it shapes their relationship with God. Hopefully, you have been encouraged to renew your habit of prayer and try new prayer resources. Our final contribution is from Michael Flickinger, a high school English teacher and pilgrimage guide, who reflects on the Daily Office as the gentle structure for a spiritual life in an otherwise chaotic day.
How were you introduced to the Daily Office?
I was introduced to the Daily Office through my work at Wonder Voyage, an ecumenical Christian pilgrimage organization. My travels with them made it possible for me to experience liturgical prayer with different communities of faith. A friend in the organization also introduced me to Celtic Daily Prayer, a prayer book by the Northumbria monastic community that really stuck with me for a few years (I still use it occasionally). As I gravitated towards Anglicanism, I started using the Book of Common Prayer and Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours.
What resources have been helpful in learning to pray the Daily Office?
Honestly, I think the Book of Common Prayer is about all you need. It was written for dummies, so it’s been perfect for me. The order for the Daily Office shows you what to pray and when to pray and lays out the scripture readings for you. It also has tons of prayers that I’ll use when I am particularly burdened by something (like “Prayers for National Life” or “Prayers for the Natural Order”). I also use the Daily Prayer app if I don’t have the book on me when it’s time to pray.
How has praying the Daily Office shaped your relationship with God?
I can’t list everything here, but when I think about the Daily Office, I think about order and context. First, praying at fixed times throughout the day brings a kind of order to my sometimes chaotic life. Between teaching and raising small children and some of my own personal tendencies (I tend to fall down the rabbit holes of projects without regard for time management), the Daily Office imposes a healthy order on me. Regardless of what I have planned, the call to prayer will be there in the morning, at noon, in the early evening, and before bed. It has its own gentle rhythm that won’t conform itself to whatever craziness I have going on. I have to slow down to pray. It can’t be rushed. Second, the Daily Office gives context to my life. It becomes the thing that bookends the activities of my day, the ups and downs, my joys and failures, etc. Prayer continually reaffirms my true purpose: I am a beloved Child of God, joining with other Children of God in the restoration of all things. The prayers and readings remind me of these core truths. Put another way, the Daily Office continually works to recalibrate the way I see God, myself, and others.