Midday Prayer: A Rookie Anglican Guide

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Our days are busy. Life is a nonstop hustle from the time we finish breakfast until we get home from work or school. Lunch itself may be eaten on the go. In the midst of it all, we often neglect Paul’s instruction to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thes. 5:17).

However, Midday Prayer is here to help. Designed for us to say around noon, this daily liturgy allows us to pause and direct our distracted minds and hearts toward our Savior. It makes us acknowledge, amid our toil, that God is our source and strength. As we face the world’s adversity, it reminds us that we are made for Christ’s kingdom.

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Like all of our Daily Office liturgies, Midday Prayer can be said alone or with others and by clergy or laypeople. You could even say it regularly with believing coworkers or classmates. Because it is brief and doesn’t change based on day or season (unlike Morning and Evening Prayer), it’s an ideal liturgy to make a habit.

A Drink from the Well

We often don’t stop at midday because we fear we won’t have the power to continue if we do. Noon can be a time of weariness—of physical, mental, and even spiritual desolation. We grab a cup of coffee to make it through the end of our day.

Weariness itself is no stranger to our Lord. It was midday, as one of our collects reminds us, that Jesus hung upon the cross. At noon, he was three hours into his crucifixion and three hours before his death. Our Lord, during those hours of ultimate suffering, clung to scripture in his weakness, quoting the Psalms (specifically, Psalm 22:1 and Psalm 31:5).

It’s fitting, then, that the Psalms feature so prominently in our midday office, also giving us strength for the hours ahead. Midday prayer offers us the chance, like the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, to meet with Jesus in the heat of the day and be renewed by his living water (John 4:5-42).

A Refresher on the Daily Office

Midday is one part of the Daily Office, the daily rhythm of prayer in the Book of Common Prayer. The two principle services are Morning and Evening Prayer, with shorter services of Midday Prayer and Compline said at noon and before bed. The four-part rhythm is:

David Smith explains in his Rookie Anglican Guide to Morning Prayer that these prayer services are scripts that walk you through the “most basic building blocks of Anglican life.” I encourage you to check out that and our other articles and Rookie Anglican guides about the Daily Office.

Unlike Morning and Evening Prayer, neither Midday Prayer nor Compline is featured in the early Prayer Books of Thomas Cranmer nor the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. Instead, Midday Prayer originates in the Benedictine monastic noon prayer time called Sext. A resurgence in this practice happened within Anglicanism in the early 20th century. Along with Compline, it became an official part of the 1979 Prayer Book and was kept in the 2019 version.

The Three Parts of Midday Prayer

Like the other offices, Midday Prayer can be divided into three parts: Preparation, Proclamation, and Prayers. However, each is much shorter than in Morning and Evening Prayer.

  • The Preparation features a brief Invitatory.
  • The Proclamation features God’s word in the Psalms and a short scripture reading.
  • The Prayers feature the Kyrie eleison, the Lord’s Prayer, collects, a time for personal prayer, and a short dismissal.

1. Preparation

Invitatory

Instead of a confession of sin, we immediately jump into the Invitatory with this antiphon:

O God, make speed to save us;
O Lord, make haste to help us.

This is followed by the Gloria Patri, a recurring doxology found in all four offices, which can be sung or said:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;
As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Alleluia.

2. Proclamation

The Psalm(s) Appointed

At this point, we transition to praising God through the Psalms. Morning and Evening Prayer cycle through all 150 Psalms. However, there are only four to choose from in Midday Prayer: Psalm 119:105-112, Psalm 121, Psalm 124, and Psalm 126.

These psalms focus on themes of God’s guidance and protection, fit for reflection throughout our day. One can choose how many to read, from just one to all four. At the end, the Gloria Patri is said or sung again.

Readings

There are three recommended passages of scripture, of which one is picked.

  • John 12:31-32 proclaims the impending judgment of the world. Christ will cast out Satan and draw all people to himself.
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17-18 reminds us that we are “a new creation” if we are in Christ and reconciled to God. Thus, we become ministers of reconciliation on his behalf.
  • Malachi 1:11 once again proclaims the future hope that God will be praised among all the nations.

Each puts our daily trials in proper perspective. They remind us our current troubles pale compared to the Kingdom of God. They commission us to the unique ministry Christ has given us as kingdom ambassadors.

3. The Prayers

We then move from the time of scripture and response to a period of laying our concerns and thanksgivings before the Lord. These begin with the antiphon,

I will bless the Lord at all times.
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.

This immediately launches into the Kyrie eleison.

Lord, have mercy upon us.
Christ, have mercy upon us.
Lord, have mercy upon us.

This simple prayer echoes the numerous petitions for God’s mercy in both testaments, particularly Christ’s mercy in the New Testament (Matt. 15:22, Matt. 17:15, Matt. 20:30, Mk. 10:46).

The Lord’s Prayer

After the Kyrie, we begin with the prayer Jesus taught us. We say it in unison, expressing our shared faith and dependence on God. The Lord’s Prayer encompasses adoration, petition, and surrender to God.

Collects

Afterward, we have another short antiphon as we move toward the collects:

O Lord, hear our prayer;
And let our cry come to you.
Let us pray.

Collects are brief prayers that gather our intentions into a focused petition. These prayers typically follow a distinct structure, beginning with an invocation or address to God, then a specific request or petition, and concluding with a doxology or affirmation of faith.

In Midday Prayer, we have four main collects:

  • The first reflects that Christ hung upon the cross at midday, and it pleads for the world’s salvation.
  • The second reflects that Christ called St. Paul at midday. It asks that Christ would enlighten all nations to himself.
  • The third reminds us of Christ’s grace and forgiveness to St. Peter. It asks for our own hearts to be strengthened in belief and zeal.
  • The fourth reflects upon Christ’s incarnation, asking God to bring us to “the glory of his resurrection.”

Any additional collects we wish to include can be found on pp. 641-683. To learn more about the Collects, read “What is a Collect?”

Thanksgivings and Intercessions

Here we have an unstructured moment to lift up our individual concerns and those we know about to God’s care.

Dismissal and Concluding Sentence

Finally, we end with a simple responsive dismissal, followed by a concluding sentence from 2 Corinthians that sets us on our way.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with us all evermore. Amen. (2 Corinthians 13:14).

We’re Here to Help

While this seems like a lot, we’re here to help. Check out our Daily Office Booklet for a simple version of morning and evening prayer. You can also check out DailyOffice2019.com, sponsored by Anglican House Publishing, for an online version of the Daily Office that you adjust to your own preferences.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash.

Author

Jacob Davis

The Rev. Jacob Davis is the editor of Anglican Compass. He is a priest in the Diocese of Christ Our Hope and lives in Louisville, Kentucky, where he serves as assisting clergy at Grace Anglican Church.

View more from Jacob Davis

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