Today I want to share a devotional resource that I’ve found extremely helpful in the last several years.
It’s called The Daily Office. Several iterations of it exist on the interwebs, but I have found the ESV online version to be most helpful. The Daily Office follows the liturgical calendar of the Episcopal and Anglican traditions and hinge on church holy days such as Christmas, Easter, and Pentecost. Each days readings contain two Psalms readings, and an Old Testament and New Testament reading. The original Daily Office in the Book of Common Prayer also contains readings from Apocryphal books (e.g. Maccabees), but since these books are not contained in the ESV, the readings on the link above omit these sections.
Why I Love The Daily Office
First, the readings are typically pretty short and are perfect for devotional use. Most individual sections can be read in 2-3 minutes with all 4 being accomplished within 10. In that 10 minutes a broad scope of Scripture is covered remedying the problem that many of us have of settling in on one type of Scripture that suits us best and neglecting the remainder. If all Scripture is “God-breathed,” then all should be read devotionally. The Daily Office provides an avenue in which this can be easily accomplished.
Second, the flexibility offered by the Office is tremendous. When I first began using it I was under the conviction that as soon as I said “Amen” at the conclusion of my morning quiet time I went about the day and never gave the Word of God another thought. So, since the Daily Office was broken up into 4 sections I read two in the morning and set two alarms on my phone, one in the afternoon and one in the evening, and took 5 minutes out of my day to read the others and briefly pray over that Scripture and my day. My devotional life was revolutionized! You can complete the readings in any fashion you deem appropriate. The shortness of each passage makes it easy to walk away and come back later if you are so inclined but it is just as easy to complete the day’s readings in one sitting.
Third, I have come to love the brevity of the passages because the short length makes devotional reflection easier. If you are like me, you can read large chunks of Scripture then, as you try to pray through what you’ve read, realize that you haven’t retained much. Consequently, prayers are vague and not especially specific. With the shorter passages of the Daily Office prayers are focused and more easily applied to specific life circumstances. I have come to love how the Daily Office results in the direct application of Scripture to my particular circumstances and leads me more quickly into prayer times.
A Final Word
As I discuss having and maintaining a devotional life with other Christians several challenges are repeatedly voiced.
- A lack of time. They want to read the Bible but don’t have the time to complete the average daily allotment in most reading plans.
- Retention. When time is found it is typically a rush to complete a 10-15 minute devotion or reading and then, as soon as the daily routine begins, the devotional thought is lost in the rush of the day.
- Prayerlessness. We have emphasized reading Scripture or doing devotions to the neglect of emphasizing the need to be in the presence of God in prayer.
As I have used the Daily Office I have found it to answer all of the challenges regularly voiced. Everyone can find 3-5 minutes at several junctures of their day. Focusing on shorter passages makes remembering the passages much easier. Dividing the devotional readings into shorter sections leaves more time for the individual to spend time in focused prayer instead of utilizing every spare minute to accomplish a given reading.
Feel free to share your experiences with the Daily Office in the comments below.