Posted by: Susan Gaddis | April 5, 2009

The Work I Can’t Neglect

One of the things I wanted to explore in more detail on this sabbatical was spiritual formation. Some years ago I encountered the desert fathers and mothers. Then came the mystics. Along this ancient trail I stumbled upon the Celtic Christians and felt that I had found my long lost relatives. A trip to Scotland and Ireland included a pilgrimage to Iona–a thin place, indeed, between heaven and earth.

I began praying the Daily Office from the Celtic Daily Prayer of the Northumbria Community and discovered a rhythm that seemed to sew the seams of my daily life together.

On this sabbatical I am reading through The Ancient Practices Series. Today’s read was a chapter from In Constant Prayer by Robert Benson. His book does not just explain what the Daily Office is, but why it is. He makes the distinction between personal prayer and corporate prayer. Both are important, but if corporate prayer is only on Sunday then something is wrong.

The Daily Office. whatever form is used, is about our worship to God in union with the church worldwide. Together, yet often alone, worshipping Him who we were created to worship. Benson states, “The prayer of the office is for God.” It is corporate prayer offered on a daily basis. It can be very “daily” or mundane.

“There is a temptation for all of us to feel as though worship is not really worth much unless we are personally moved by it. If we are not somehow emotionally touched, then our worship does not seem spiritual to us. It helps to remember that liturgy is the work of the people, not the magic wand of God.”

I love this reminder! Worship is work. It is for God, to God, and not about me. That is why it is called a sacrifice of praise.

The Daily Office is a way, one of many, to join in the corporate work of daily worship. If I get something out of it–great! If not–that’s fine too, because I’m not doing it for me. I’m joining the church worldwide and heaven high in the work we were created to do. This is one work I am not to neglect during this sabbatical.




  1. hey susan thanks for the funny card yesterday, hope you guys are having an awesome time. Thanks for talking about the daily office. It was a good little read.

    Here is that website I was telling you about that has the daily office on there for all times of the day.

    you may have already seen this website, but thought i would share it with you.


    • Hi Will,
      The Northumbria Community is the one who publishes the Celtic Daily Prayer book I use and the prayers you found on their website are the same ones as in the book, although the book contains many more also. I am so glad you found them as I think they are beautiful. I hope you enjoy them.

  2. I like this…a lot!

  3. I too am drawn to that which unites me to believers in other places and times in the worship of our Father who art in Heaven. Thus, as my Orthodox Lenten fast draws to its close this Sunday, I approach it not as I expected (with eagerness to have a steak), but with profound gratitude for the opportunity to enter in and a true regret that it is over.

  4. When we heed the moment to pray on a bigger scale, we never know the number of sisters/brothers that are praying for the same thing at that very momnent. Let us not miss those bigger picture moments. Thanks Susan

  5. Susan, I had never heard of the Northumbria Community or the Celtic Daily Prayer book until I read your blog. I Googled Northumbria and found their website and have been using the Daily Office in my personal worship for the past couple of weeks. I ordered the Celtic Daily Prayer book too.
    God bless you and Tom. I think of you folks often.

    • Hi Steve,
      It is interesting to me how some folks have a hard time with praying prayers that are written down. Some feel that all prayer should be spontaneous. Yet the book of Psalms was written as both a hymnal and a prayer book and has been used for centuries for corporate prayer and worship songs. Even The Lord’s Prayer is a form of repetition if you say it more then once! As long as written prayers aren’t prayed mindlessly then it isn’t “vain repetition,” just repetition.
      I’ve really enjoyed the Northumbria Community’s “Waymarks, Songs for the Journey” CD and “May the Peace of the Lord Christ Go With You” CD also. You will find that some of their Daily Office is sung, and the songs are on the CDs. However, I love the songs as individual prayers and sing them throughout the day. “Even though the Day be Laden” is perhaps one of my very favorite when I am facing a long day. You can find them on their website also.
      Thanks for your comment, Susan

  6. Word…and so good!

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