According to 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18, Christians are called to “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
One way the faithful can fulfill this directive is through the Liturgy of the Hours. Priests are required to pray the Divine Office every day, while deacons only need to observe the morning and evening prayers. When the laity participates in the Liturgy of the Hours, they are joining together in prayer with the Holy Father, priests, bishops, and other members of religious orders throughout the world.
The tradition of the Divine Office can be traced back to Exodus 29:39 when God required a daily sacrifice from the Levitical priesthood by saying, “One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer in the evening.” This form of physical sacrifice continued until the Jewish temple was destroyed during the Babylonian exile. Because physical sacrifices were no longer possible, the priesthood started offering spiritual sacrifices to God in the form of psalms and hymns.
After the Jewish temple was rebuilt around 520 BC, the physical sacrifices continued during the morning and evening hours, while the spiritual offering of psalms and hymns were presented during the third, sixth, and ninth hours of the day. During the second century, the tradition of praying five times a day was increased to seven times when the monks began worshiping God into the night.
Because the tradition of praying the Psalms has continued throughout the centuries, Pope Paul VI wrote in an Apostolic Constitution entitled Laudis Canticum that the “living love for Holy Scripture that permeates the Liturgy of the Hours must come to life in all of us, so that Scripture may indeed become the chief source of all Christian prayer.”
If you would like to participate in what Pope Paul VI describes as “the hymn of praise that is sung through all the ages in the heavenly places,” there are several options available:
The ideal option would be the Liturgy of the Hours, a four-volume set by Catholic Book Publishing Company. A one-volume edition of the Liturgy of the Hours is also available by Catholic Book Publishing. This version contains the complete text for morning and evening prayers for the entire year, but it lacks many of the readings found in the four-volume edition.
Another option comes from Valentine Publishing House in a 32-page prayer book entitled Heavenly Praise & Worship. Not only will this priceless gem (that costs $1) help you pray the Psalms and worship God in ways that you never imagined, it has the power to open the floodgates of heaven so that you may receive the fullness of God’s abundant blessings in all your endeavors.