From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
“Praying the Daily Office and the Psalms”

“Praying the Daily Office and the Psalms”

At about this time in 2021 Fr George Guiver and Sr Elizabeth Jane were leading us in a Week of Prayer. One of the emphases of Fr George was on the Church at prayer, and how joining with it – with the daily morning and evening prayer and the Eucharist – lays deep foundations in our lives and is the point from which flows the desire for personal prayer.

The Church’s pattern of prayer today is a simplification of the eight-fold monastic daily office of Matins, Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline, associated with Psalm 119 v164 “Seven times a day I praise you” and v62 “At midnight I rise to give you thanks”.

The word ‘office’ comes from the Latin officium, duty. Prayer is work, not a means to gain anything for ourselves, including a sense of fulfilment. So the Order of Saint Benedict calls the daily office the Opus Dei, the Work of God, and a motto is Ora et labora, Pray and work.

If you are praying by yourself, it is good to know that many others are praying the same prayers. The Church of England Daily Prayer services are designed so that they can be said by individuals or in a group, and is available on the website or in the Daily Prayer app. There are four services at different times of day: Morning, Midday, Evening and Night Prayer. You can also choose between modern and traditional language.

Or joining in with more of the cycle of worship and prayer that underpins the life of the Cathedral might provide a helpful and supportive structure.

The monastic office and Daily Prayer are based on the Bible, and especially the psalms. The psalms were the prayer book of Jesus; from the temptations to the cross, he often quoted from them. They express all human emotion, from praise and trust to fury and desolation, and the many ways in which God works in our lives. Nothing can be hidden from God (see Psalm 139) and God can deal with anything the psalmist or any of us might want to vent. So the psalms are a deep well to draw from in our personal relationship with God and our intercession on behalf of others.

For any who would like a simple way in to use the psalms in prayer, Fr George shared a list that could be recited day by day each month. I have excerpted these from Common Worship and produced a (draft) booklet, with the chant used at Sr Elizabeth Jane’s community for those who might like to sing them.


This is one of a series of articles appearing in Exeter Cathedral’s monthly news, complementing the material I contributed to the “Explore Prayer” section of the Cathedral website. I hope you find them helpful.