The Daily Office

Discover The Rhythms Of The Daily Office And Sabbath, 5 February 2012


“Emotional health and contemplative spirituality, when interwoven together, offer nothing short of a spiritual revolution, transforming the hidden places deep beneath the surface of our lives” says author and pastor Pete Scazzero in his book
Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. This series is based upon the biblical themes of Scazzero’s book in an effort to help us better understand ourselves in order to better love God and others.

The Big Idea

The fifth pathway to emotionally healthy spirituality is to discover the rhythms of the Daily Office and Sabbath.

Connecting With God

How do you connect with God? Many people engage in religious activities to learn about or appease God. The essence of Christianity, however, is a relationship with God. All relationships require time, effort, and dedication. Today we will be discussing two powerful tools to help you grow in your relationship with God. These are not two things to add to your to-do list. They are not a measure of your spirituality. If used, however, they will radically enhance your relationship with God and yourself.

Daniel 6

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. Then these men went as a group and found Daniel praying and asking God for help. So they went to the king and spoke to him about his royal decree: “Did you not publish a decree that during the next thirty days anyone who prays to any god or man except to you, O king, would be thrown into the lions’ den?” (Daniel 6:9-11)


Our culture knows nothing about rhythms. We live life 24/7, an expression that was unknown a decade ago. We use words like chaos, scattered, distracted, stressed, and overwhelmed to describe our existence. We are always on the way to something or somewhere. We strive for bigger, better, and faster.

How do I have a calm, centered life that is oriented around God?

You were created to know and love God and be known by and loved by Him.

We need to slow down to connect with God. How?

You cannot jump off a moving treadmill. You must slow it down first.

The Daily Office and Sabbath bring rhythm to our lives daily and weekly.

The Daily Office or Fixed-Hour Prayer: daily rhythm

Daniel is at the University of Babylon, essentially. His name is changed and the leaders attempt to take God out of him. Our culture is much like Babylon, trying to make us think and act like the world rather than God.

Daniel is a busy, respected man in service to the king.

Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before. (Daniel 6:10)

Daniel prays three times each day on his knees. Posture is meaningful. This is not just a quick quiet time or devotional.

Office (
opus) means “work of God” in Latin. My work is to seek and be with God.

One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

That is David’s work. An office is about being with God, not trying to get things from God. Our first work is to seek God and be with God.

How can you be aware of and conscious of God throughout the day? You must stop and pause throughout the day to be aware of His presence.

Seven times a day I praise you for your righteous laws. (Psalms 119:164)

It is good to praise the LORD and make music to your name, O Most High, to proclaim your love in the morning and your faithfulness at night,
(Psalm 92:1-2)

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.
(Psalm 55:17)

The Psalms are a prayer book.

The Daily Office is frequently associated with Catholics or highly liturgical denominations. All followers of Jesus can benefit from books of prayer that incorporate Scripture and reflection.

The issue is not what you do, but getting connected with God through Scripture and silence where you can be still in the presence of God.

Kierkegaard said,

The present state of the world and the whole of life is diseased. If I were a doctor and were asked for my advice, I should reply: Create silence. All will be acquired in stillness and made divine in silence.

The only thing that can contain God is silence. The only way to experience it is to do it. It’s simple, but difficult.

Distractions are always present, but with practice they become easier to ignore.

The idea of the Daily Office is to stop several times throughout the day to pause and remember God. It is a discipline to order your day to remind you what is important in life: God. It centers you.

The four classic office periods are

- Morning: 6-9 AM
- Midday: 11 AM-2 PM
- Evening: 5-8 PM
- Bedtime: before you close your eyes!

Start and close your day with God and remember Him throughout the day. The Daily Office is like a mini Sabbath each day.

Most people live off of the spirituality of others because they do not make time for God.
The Daily Office may involve

- reading Scripture
- reading a prayer book
- taking a walk
- journaling
- whatever works for you to connect with God throughout the day
- breaks throughout the day of 5-30 minutes

Sabbath: weekly rhythm

This is a command by God for us to stop for a 24-hour period each week.

The Sabbath is the first holy thing mentioned in the Bible.

Do nothing one day a week.

Without the fourth and longest commandment, you cannot do the other nine.

God’s Top Ten: Exodus 20:1-17

1. You shall have no other gods before me
2. You shall not make for yourself an idol.
3. You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God.

4. Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord our God. On it you shall not do any work,... For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy”

5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. You shall not murder
7. You shall not commit adultery.
8. You shall not steal.
9. You shall not give false witness.
10. You shall not covet.

God commands rhythm in our lives of work and rest.

Sabbath was made for us not us for the Sabbath.

Sabbath is about self-care. Our world says you are what you do. Your life is God alone, not your outputs and performance.

Qualities to Biblical Sabbath

-- Stopping
-- Resting
-- Delighting
-- Contemplating

You must prepare for the Sabbath. You can’t just do it.

The core issue is trusting God.

We taste heaven on the Sabbath.

Sabbath is very radical. It has always been revolutionary!

It’s like a snow day every week!

It’s not a punishment but a gift. There is no place for legalism, it is to be a delight.

Sabbath Scriptures

The word “Sabbath” appears 116 times in the NIV translation of the Bible.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. (Exodus 20:8)

but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.
(Exodus 20:10)

For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
(Exodus 20:11)

“‘Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people.
(Exodus 31:14)

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, holy to the LORD. Whoever does any work on the Sabbath day must be put to death.
(Exodus 31:15)

For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. (Exodus 35:2)

“‘There are six days when you may work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of rest, a day of sacred assembly. You are not to do any work; wherever you live, it is a Sabbath to the LORD. (Leviticus 23:3)

“Observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy, as the LORD your God has commanded you.
(Deuteronomy 5:12)

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day.
(Deuteronomy 5:15)

For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.”
(Matthew 12:8)

Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”
(Mark 2:27-28)

Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
(Luke 23:56)

The Ancient Practice of Silence/Solitude: Guidelines

1. Be
Attentive and Open
2. Get Comfortable. Be Relaxed. Still
3. Take Deep Breath.
4. Close or Lower Your Eyes toward the Ground

I wait for the LORD, my soul waits, and in his word I put my hope. (
Psalms 130:5)


We live in Babylon. Our culture is diametrically opposed to God. We are bombarded by subtle and not-so-subtle messages that seduce us away from the things of God.

If you are serious about following Jesus, you will need to do radical, counter-cultural things with your time, talents, and treasures. An hour on Sunday is not enough to maintain a relationship with God. A quick prayer at dinner or bedtime is not sufficient either. None of us—myself included—are able to spend all of our waking hours in prayer and Bible study, but we can periodically incorporate Scripture and silence into our daily lives and pause for one day a week to do nothing.

There are no shortcuts to relationships. Ever!

We were created to know God. The Daily Office and weekly Sabbath are biblical, powerful, and revolutionary ways to breathe deeply, be with God, and become like Jesus. They require sacrifice—Daniel faced a den of lions for his prayers—but the reward is worth it.

A Sample Daily Office For Groups

1. Pause for two minutes of silence (Psalm 46:10)
2. Read aloud Psalm 90:4, 12, 17
3. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
4. Read aloud Psalm 33:20-22
5. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
6. Read aloud Matthew 6:9-14
7. Pause for 15 seconds of silence
8. Read aloud Isaiah 30:15 and Psalm 86:11, 13a
9. Pause for two minutes of silence

For Further Reading

The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle

Praying With The Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today by Scot McKnight
The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence 
Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre De Caussade
Too Deep for Words by Thelma Hall 
Sabbath Presence by Kathleen Casey

The Divine Hours
Sacred Space
Pray As You Go (audio daily office)
Northumbria Community:

You can listen to the podcast here.

Note: many ideas derived from Peter Scazzero’s book Emotionally Healthy Spirituailty.