Early this year we had a post here about making the “Occasional Prayers” in the new prayer book a regular feature of one’s recitation of the Daily Office. I won’t link you back to it though because that was built on the penultimate draft of the prayer book, and a few of those prayers have been dropped, merged, added to, and moved around, throwing the numbers off between the late 2018 draft and the 2019 final copy.
Instead, I’m providing a fresh shiny new upload here of this Customary’s Order for the Occasional Prayers! Click that link to download it.
Some of the backstory to this can be found in the file – the Daily Office in the classical prayer books (before 1979) included a number of prayers and thanksgivings and collects after the Office (perhaps mainly just Morning Prayer if I recall) which were authorized-but-optional, to be added after the the required Three Collects toward the end of the Office. It’s a mixed blessing having lost that feature in modern prayer books – on one hand people it’s nice to have a larger and more comprehensive appendix of prayers to draw from, but being place so far back in the book will make them less likely to be noticed by the average prayer book user. That’s why this suggested order is put forth.
Let’s look at why this scheme is recommended the way it is.
Sunday, being the principle day of worship for the church gathered, has the section of prayers labeled At Times of Prayer and Worship as well as the prayers on Death, the Departed, and the Communion of Saints, as that is when most of the saints on earth are gathered. The assigned prayers skip around, numerically, in order to avoid prayers that are too similar from being read at the same Office.
On Monday the prayers start at the beginning of the list, covering the section For the Church. In general, the prayers for the morning are more specific and the prayers for the evening are more general or topical.
Tuesday morning covers the next section, For the Nation, again arranging the prayers so that too-similar collects aren’t prayed on the same day. Depending upon which country you hail from, certain prayers along the way will be appropriate to omit (mainly in the USA versus Canada distinction). In the evening, one day dips into the Personal Devotions list and the other starts the For Society section.
Wednesday morning is omitted, because that’s a traditional time for saying the Great Litany. The evening finishes the For Society section and begins the next section, Intercessions For Those in Need.
Thursday morning skips ahead to more of the Personal Life and Personal Devotions sections, while Thursday evening (in light of the day’s traditional Eucharistic theme) covers most of the Thanksgivings.
Friday morning (like Wednesday morning) is omitted so you can focus on the Great Litany. The evening covers the rest of the prayers For Those in Need where Wednesday left off.
Saturday covers the prayers about Creation and Family Life, as well as Personal Life and Devotion. The creation theme matches the Morning Prayer Collect recommended for Saturdays (Collect for Sabbath Rest), and the family section is chosen to match the fact that Saturday is often a “day off with the family” for much of the working world. The remaining personal devotions also serve as a sort of introspective preparation for corporate worship on the following morning.
For sake of simplicity, “Week I” should line up with odd-numbered weeks in the liturgical calendar, and “Week II” with even-numbered weeks. For example, this is the week (in modern reckoning) of Proper 13, so this week should be considered an odd-numbered week.