Pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Three Easy Steps

I was intrigued by the Liturgy of the Hours before I even became Catholic. I read of other mamas praying the hours and working the hard stops of these prayers into their daily life. And of it bearing fruit in their lives.

Like many other things in the Church, though, there was a general assumption that Catholics just knew how to do this. Jargon was thrown about, and despite my attempts to research what the Hours were and how to do it, the whole idea just left me scratching my head.

Then about a year ago I stumbled on the book The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours and all of a sudden things were very clear. Daria Sockey does a fabulous job of explaining exactly what the Hours are and how to pray them. The book also contains tons of options for praying the hours — different books, websites, apps, and audio versions.


Which is helpful, but what if you just want a crash course because you want to pray today? Well that I provide right here! Here is Pam’s super-duper easy crash course of how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in Three Easy Steps for those who just want to get started today.

1. What is the Liturgy of the Hours?

Very simply the Hours are a set of prayers the church has been praying for thousands of years. At set times of day, religious, priests and even laypeople stop what they are doing and gather to pray these prayers.

The prayers themselves are an arrangement of Psalms and other Scripture. Some of the elements of the prayers repeat daily and others repeat less often, but if you pray them long enough you will notice things start to sound familiar. There are seven different prayers spread throughout the day, but don’t worry, you are going to start with just one.

2. Pick ONE hour to start with.

“Pam, what do you mean I have to stop seven times a day to pray?” Talk about overwhelming!  Seven Hours a day are for religious communities whose vocation is to pray. And Hours is the name of the prayer. The actual prayers take about 10-20 minutes to pray.

While it would be lovely to pray the Psalms that many times a day, it really isn’t practical for most people — especially moms.

We have a dear semi-retired priest at our parish who tells us that the greatest form of prayer is to realize we are in God’s presence. So focus on that throughout the day, and just choose one of the Hours to sit and pray to get you started.

I love the Psalms of the Morning Hour — so full of praise and rejoicing. This prayer is to be said upon waking.

Another option is Evening Prayer. Usually said in the later afternoon to early evening this prayer includes the beautiful Magnificat. If you typically have a few minutes at the end of your day, or would like to begin praying with your family, this may be a good option to choose.

Night Prayer comes right before bed. These Psalms focus on God’s protection during the night.

There are others during the day, but these are the three main ones. I personally love Morning Prayer, but choose which one works for you. Start with one and build from there.

3. Visit Divine Office.org

At this website you can see the proper prayers for today. You can print the prayers, pray from your computer screen, or click the audio button to pray “in community” with the recording. It is the easiest way to begin to pray the Divine Office without the confusion of what to pray and when. Just choose the day and prayer and get started.

When You are Ready for More

I really do recommend the book. The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours lays things out in an easy, understandable manner and provides many different options for praying the Hours — from various book forms to the myriad of apps available.

As for me, I love the apps of Divine Office. The audio is beautifully done; I feel as if I am praying in community; the content is always there; and the app format makes praying the hours easy to do. This app makes it easy to pray if you are away from your computer or not connected to the Internet.

There is something about praying the Psalms and Scripture that lifts you above ordinary prayer. Jesus and Mary prayed the Psalms — they knew them by heart. It’s a beautiful way to start or end your day knowing that the entire Church is praying with you and giving honor to God.

So start with one, and above all, ask for His guidance and blessing in your endeavor.

What is your experience with the Liturgy of the Hours? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

Previous

Next

  • Lisa says:

    My experience? Well, you already know I have a pretty unique experience with it all… 😉 My favorite is the night prayer – we do it in bed right before we turn out the lights. I like that if we keep this up, Genevieve will be used to this as her evening routine.
    My recent post Project Snapshot {Week 7}

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Yes, she will and that is awesome! You have such a great opportunity to start these things young and carry them through.

  • Amber says:

    I'm trying to work up to praying three of the hours each day by the end of the year. Right now I'm praying Morning Prayer with the Universalis app. I used to pray two to three of the hours a day, but with pregnancy and all last year, I really got out of the habit.

    I tried the Divine Office website, but I really didn't want everything read to me. I'd rather be able to read softly to myself and be able to pause easily to help my toddler or baby. Also, it makes it easier to pray right when I get up without waking either of the little ones. It is such a wonderful, peaceful, and fruitful practice, isn't it!
    My recent post Nature Walk: Mosses and Lichens

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Amber I really like how you are “building up.” Instead of jumping right in with something hard to keep up with, you are starting slow. And yet you have a goal that will stretch you by the end of the year.

      I am also a Universalis app fan, but I love the community offered by the audio prayers.

  • Karen says:

    I found the book 'The Divine Office for DODOS' – it got me started on praying the Night Prayers. My husband even joins me, when he is awake when I start! lol
    I find ending the day with set prayers and a short examination makes it easier for me to fall asleep and I don't get stressed if I miss prayers in the morning because the littles all wake up with me instead of after me.
    Wonderful post! thank you
    blessings
    Karen
    My recent post A Tomb

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      My littles wake up with me too. Makes it so hard to get that quiet, morning time in. I like the way you have approached it differently. Mostly I tend to pitch a little private fit about it. 🙁

  • Sarah says:

    I loved Daria’s book too! Very helpful.

  • Marcia says:

    I started with the print version and got a headache trying to get the sequencing and “ribbon placements” right. And I haven’t even started praying yet! It takes getting used to, and I am sure that the Holy Spirit helps along. Eventually, things got less fussy and much more manageable. I like the Morning Prayer, too — the peace, resolve, and gratitude and trust in God that it brings forth.

    When things are chaotic in the morning, I find myself putting on the Morning Prayer via divineoffice.org while ironing the hubby’s office clothes. Then things don’t seem so chaotic anymore.

    Hopefully, the Night Prayer will part of my Divine Office self-routine. Maybe I can work on that this Lent.

    ‘Hoping to read Daria Sockey’s book, too…

    Thank you for this encouraging and well-organized post. Blessings…

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Marcia you are a brave soul. I am sure that ribbon placement and sequencing could be a college-level course. I am so thankful for the apps and websites that walk me through what to do with very little thought on my part. Removes much of the barriers that way.

  • Carol says:

    I just saw this on pinterest. A helpful hint that is really important to remember as a layperson is that the liturgy of the hours is not a daily duty for us as it is for a religious. This is extremely important to keep in mind when we are balancing out our day and our state of life. I have seen many a homeschooler doing these prayers and not attending to their daily duties that seem less glamorous.

  • Antoinette says:

    Great job on this! Thank you so much for writing it! I’ve read Daria Sockey’s The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours and recommend it as well. I love how easy you’ve made it here, too. The Liturgy is so beautiful to me and I find I miss it when I’m unable to pray an Hour. The Divine Office app has been so wonderful in that respect. While I miss my breviary (the book) when I find I’m unable to read it, the app has been invaluable! Thank you again!

  • >