The practice of Daily Office proceeds from the ancient to the Catholic to the Anglican Church traditions. It’s prayer paired with Scripture reading, twice daily. An easygoing common habit.
Not for me.
Before beginning the Daily Office, I hadn’t spent continuous, concentrated time alone with God for eight years.
In the morning? Too tired. In the evening? Too busy. (And still too tired.)
I felt guilty. I thought I wasn’t as diligent as other, more disciplined Christians. I viewed daily devotions as exercise: Lift spiritual weight, get spiritual gains. Don’t, and stay weak. And my guilt said weakness displeased God.
Guilt became fear. I feared beginning daily devotions because I might not continue, because I might not be good at it, because I might not do enough, because I might do too much, because [insert excuse here].
Bottom line: I didn’t want to disappoint God by failing. So I didn’t try.
Then the church asked me to. I felt a call I couldn’t explain. I said yes.
The first few days I instinctively navel-gazed. Was I praying the right way? How long should my Scripture reading be? Was my life changing at all?
Does God love me more now?
I hated my inward-pointed anxieties. So I looked outward.
God was waiting for me, and he started revealing himself as the Daily Office repeated, became a rhythm. Scripture spoke as I was drawn to listen. It revealed God’s creation, made it easier to see his redemption around me. And praying kept me in his arms.
I didn’t always follow through. I missed days. I wasn’t perfect.
Only by Christ's blood, the sacrifice shot through the whole of Scripture, are we free to fail without condemnation. Like the Daily Office, Lent magnifies the coming cross and tomb. During this season the whole church acknowledges our weakness through intentionality, deprivation, failure. We cry out. And God answers with grace, giving us strength.
Through this time of spiritual formation I learned that God does not love me more or less because of what I do. His endless love is already as great as it can be. And the Daily Office sets my mind on Christ, the ultimate revelation of God’s grace, so I can simply enjoy the awesome wonder of his continuing work.
- Connor Mighell
(To see a visual response to the practice of the Daily Office, see Missy Wood's drawing in the Gallery and artist statement in the Gallery Booklet.)