From time to time our church calendar will read Morning Prayer or Evening Prayer. These services are historic ones. You might think of it like an antique – some people love them and find them beautiful. Some do not, but can respect others’ treasures. The Apostles Creed, for example, is the oldest of the creeds of the church and is considered a Baptismal symbol (a basis for Christian unity). The Song of Simeon was first sung in the Gospel of Luke. What is the balance any church finds between the need for continual renewal and the need to preserve the sacred deposit of faith entrusted to the church?
Usually, to enjoy something vintage, it helps to know about its original context and current use. Morning and Evening Prayer fit in a pattern of fixed-hour prayer (variously referred to as “The Liturgy of the Hours” or “the Daily Office.”) The idea is that prayer is a part of the work of the church. Although stopping other activities for fixed-hour prayer is a costly discipline, it is also the work of God. In this custom, Christians, and particularly clergy and monastics, stop daily work at specific hours for prayer in order to “be stirred up to godliness” and “be the more inflamed with the love of God’s true religion.” Daniel did so in the Old Testament, and the Psalter testifies “seven times a day do I praise you” (Ps. 119.) The Apostles in Acts speak of going to the synagogue for prayer at the 3rd hour (9 am), the 6th hour (noon), and the 9th (3 pm). St. Peter was transformed in Acts 10-11 when on the rooftop for the noonday prayer. Although Morning and Evening Prayer have certainly changed over the centuries, the intent and much of the content has remained. At St. Luke’s we pray Evening Prayer together every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. Others pray Morning and Evening Prayer at home, at regular hours. Prayed regularly, the Daily Office reads the whole Bible over a two year period, says the Lord’s Prayer twice daily, and recites the Psalter continuously. Furthermore, the practice of common prayer incorporates the individual Christian in company, with those gathered here on any particular occasion, with Christians throughout the worldwide Catholic communion, and the Communion of Saints in history. When we apply ourselves to fixed hour prayer, we have a spiritual community, seen or unseen. Simply speaking, it is a part of the Anglican way of being Christian.
 “Morning and Evening Prayer,” Everyman’s History of the Book of Common Prayer, section 3, chapter 12.
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