Organised prayer has been a central feature of the spiritual life from the earliest times, and was frequently emphasised by the early Church Fathers. So it is with the Order of Dionysis and Paul, in which regularly engaging in prayer is a fundamental part of daily life. Consequently, throughout the day specific times are set aside for prayer so that the soul may recollect itself and persevere in its main purpose – spiritual regeneration.
The mind is not a vacuum, and if left to its own devices it will inevitably occupy itself with thoughts, feelings and images generated by the senses; a never-ending procession of thought-forms defining and dictating mood and behaviour. It has long been known that prayer is the most effective way of harnessing these same faculties towards more positive and spiritual ends; namely the work of spiritual regeneration. To this end the Order prescribes three offices to be performed daily by individual members. The morning office, ideally performed upon rising, after ablutions, establishes a unique theme and tone for the day; the midday office, a very short office that reinforces the primary theme established in the morning office, and the evening office, performed just before retiring, which provides an opportunity for reflection, particularly upon the theme of the day and how that theme influenced the course of the day. The evening office also provides time for members to reflect upon personal behaviour and attitudes and to consider possible modifications and responses.
The daily offices are primarily designed for individual use but may be shared and used as group devotions. They may also be modified, extended and supplemented with different prayers and readings such as the Psalms, the Proverbs or other suitable material. In addition to the daily offices there are other formalised group devotions such as the Ceremony of Spiritual Communion; Lectio Divina; and Compline, which enable members to gather together in prayer, or jointly engage in the meditative work of self-enquiry. A few words concerning these ceremonies now follows.