I have always struggled with the Liturgy of the Hours. Two different places where I have worked have used the Liturgy of the Hours as the chosen form of morning prayer together as a staff. To be completely honest I have always found it to be boring and too repetitive to get anything out of praying it.
I have been praying the Morning Prayer this week as a part of my new morning routine. I haven’t settled on a specific type of prayer, but I thought this would be worth trying especially since I have the prayers in my iPhone with the free Liturgy of the Hours App, iBreviary. Yesterday, I realized two important insights that have helped me appreciate the prayers in a much deeper way:
1) The Liturgy of the Hours is prayed together with the universal Church whether prayed alone or in groups. Not only do we pray the same prayers that are being prayed throughout the rest of the world, but it is important to think of the Church that extends beyond this world and to the saints and blesseds. This realization came through listening to a great interview from the About the Church Podcast titled Liturgy of the Hours with the people from DivineOffice.org.
2) The prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours are focused on praise and orient us towards the praise and appreciation of God in and of himself, not in what we can get from God in prayer. It is easy to use prayer as a means to an end. Personally, I had thoughts of making my day better and being a better person if I added prayer to my morning routine. That I might treat people more charitably. I would become more like Christ without even trying. Though that might be so, motivation is everything. Praying Lauds from the Liturgy of the Hours has been an important reminder that my focus in prayer should never be on what I can get out of it, but solely on God. God will take care of the rest.
From the Canticle of Judith 16:1, 13-15:
Strike up the instruments,
a song to my God with timbrels,
chant to the Lord with cymbals;
Sing to him a new song,
exalt and acclaim his name.
A new hymn I will sing to my God.
O Lord, great are you and glorious,
wonderful in power and unsurpassable.