In my days as a staunch evangelical, one of the recommended practices was a daily “quiet time” of prayer and Bible reading, preferably done first thing in the morning.
Those whom I recognized as mature in their Christian faith had this kind of daily discipline and when I practiced it, I could see its fruit in my life.
But I confess, it was not always easy to figure out what to read in the Bible on any given day. Often, we would have a book hot off the press focusing on a particular Bible study that would be part of our Sunday school adult education, requiring readings during the week to give some structure. It was good to have these books and I learned a lot from them. On other days, well, it might involve opening the Bible at random and reading for a while, hoping something in the text would come alive for me. Or I would default to turning to favorite passages and verses. Maybe I’d find a good commentary online at Christian Classic Ethereal Library to help. Or I might decide to read Genesis or the Gospel of John or some other book. But many a morning, I floundered, wondering, okay, time for some Bible study, but what do I read now? Where do I start?
After coming across Neil Anderson’s The Bondage Breaker and his Freedom in Christ ministries, and saying the detailed prayers of confession, renunciation for such things as involvement in the occult, false teaching, bitterness, lack of forgiveness, and so on, I learned the importance of maintaining my freedom in Christ by daily reciting a statement of faith, and choosing to have an Apostolic faith—whatever that was. I was now in search of such a faith–and thankfully, that search led me with our community into the Catholic Church.
What a joy in that process of deeper conversion to enter the traditional Anglican world, and the pattern of Morning and Evening Prayer, practiced not only by clergy but by lay people as well. I realized Anderson was reinventing the wheel by re-instituting practices that had been widespread in the Christian world. Not only did we recite the Apostles’ Creed twice a day, we prayed or sang canticles that are now committed to memory. And the pattern of Bible readings —Old Testament, New Testament, promise and fulfillment, the steeping in the Psalms every day made it easy to know what to read every day, provided a framework that made you attentive to all of Scripture, not merely the favored bits that confirmed my prejudices but challenged me against devolving to proof texts.
We await from Rome an approved version of our Divine Offices, but if the approved version of our liturgy is any indication, I think we will be most happy with it.
If you’d like to see a close approximation of what it might look like, John Covert’s Morning and Evening Prayer site follows the Ordo of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter and you can join in via conference call from around the world.