Without exaggeration it can be said that Concordia Publishing House is currently in a golden age of its publication history. For at least a decade now they have consistently been publishing a whole range of excellent resources that in a renewed way are committed to teaching the doctrine of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. The 2006 publication of Lutheran Service Book and its accompanying resources has been a blessing to our synod. Pastors have seen a whole array of excellent Lutheran theological works being published.
In midst of all those good things, for me, one item has stood out above all the others. That item is Treasury of Daily Prayer (http://www.cph.org/t-tdp.aspx) which was published in 2008. I am writing about it for two reasons. First, I believe that Treasury of Daily Prayer is the single best resource for enriching the devotional lives of Lutheran congregation members. It is my hope that I will be able to encourage more people to make Treasury of Daily Prayer a part of their daily life in the faith. Second, I have had a number of members who do use Treasury of Daily Prayer ask me if at some time I would provide additional guidance in how to use the book. These members have seen all of the resources in the book and have felt that they are not getting everything out of the use of the book that is possible. I am sure that this is true for members in other congregations as well.
I. What’s in it?
A. Propers for Daily Prayer
At the heart of Treasury of Daily Prayer are devotional resources for each day (the Propers). The book provides seven items for each day: 1) Psalmody 2) Old Testament Reading 3) New Testament Reading 4)Writing 5) Hymnody 6) Prayer of the Day 7) Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord
The Psalmody is a short psalm or a portion of psalm (usually around ten verses in length). The Old Testament and New Testament reading provides the biblical text to be read each day. This is usually about 40 verses. It is the same daily lectionary printed at the bottom of the bulletin insert each week. This will take the reader through the entire New Testament and about a third of the Old Testament in a year. The Writing is the text of a brief excerpt from the Book of Concord, Martin Luther or some writer from the catholic (universal) Church during the last two thousand years. The Prayer of the Day provides the text of a prayer for that specific day. The Suggested Reading from the Book of Concord provides only a citation of the recommended passage.
B. Orders of Daily Prayer
In the center of the book are the Orders of Daily Prayer: 1) Matins 2) Vespers 3) Compline 4) Morning Prayer 5) Evening Prayer 6) Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families 7) Responsive Prayer 1 8) Responsive Prayer 2 9) The Litany. Apart from the Daily Prayer for Families, these are the services that are found in Lutheran Service Book. The Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families provides brief devotional services that can be used by individuals and groups at Morning, Noon, Early Evening, and Close of the Day.
C. Seasonal Invitatories, Anitphon and Responsories
The Orders of Matins and Vespers originated in the setting of the monastery. Although the same order of service was used at the same time of day there were numerous portions of the service that varied depending on the day and season of the Church year. The Invitatory is the statement that introduces and concludes the singing of the Venite (Psalm 95:1-7) and the other psalms used in Matins. The antiphons are used at the beginning and ending of the additional psalm/s and frame the psalm in way that highlights the day or season of the Church year. The Responsories are used after the Scripture readings.
D. The Psalter
Treasury of Daily Prayers contains all of the Pslams printed in the same fashion as they are found in Lutheran Service Book. Each one ends with the Gloria Patri: “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.” The Gloria Patri is a brief but clear confession of the Trinity and its addition to the end of the psalm connects the psalm from the Old Testament with the way God has revealed Himself through the incarnation of the Son of God.
E. Selected Canticles
Canticles are biblical texts that have been used as songs in worship. The are provided for use with the different Orders of Daily Prayer
F. Luther’s Small Catechism
Treasury of Daily Prayer includes the text of the Small Catechism.
II. How is it arranged?
A great strength of Treasury of Daily Prayer is that it is arranged on the basis of the Church year. It begins with Ash Wednesday and takes the reader through Holy Trinity in the Time of Easter. This orders personal devotions to the rhythms of the Church’s life as each year we again observe our Lord’s saving work. This journey is also punctuated by the Feasts, Festivals and Commemorations of the saints who have gone before us and provided notable service in Christ’s Church. Treasury of Daily Prayer notes these days and provides the Collect as well as a brief description of the individual. Because the date of Easter varies from year to year the next part of the Daily Propers which covers the Time of the Church and the Time of Christmas are marked according to the specific date (May 18 through March 9). The reader begins the Time of the Church section on the specific date that is the first Monday after Trinity Sunday. This is used until the Ash Wednesday when the user returns to the front of the book.
III. Why does this book exist?
Treasury of Daily Prayer stands in the tradition of the breviary. This type of work became common in the thirteenth century. It brought within one book all of the things needed to pray the Daily Prayer Offices of the Church such as Matins and Vespers. Like the breviary, Treasury of Daily Prayer places between two covers all of the resources that a person needs in order to have a rich, Scriptural devotion and prayer life that follows the rhythm of the Church year.
IV. How do I use it?
The first thing to realize is that there is no one “right” way to use it, and instead the rich content allows a Christian to draw upon those parts that are helpful and fit into the schedule of his or her life. The more parts you can use, the better, and so as you get familiar with Treasury of Daily Prayer you can make it a goal to include more of it in your devotions. A great place to start is by using some of the orders of service included in the Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families. Simply reading the text of the service and following the rubrics (the directions printed in red) will help you to begin using the many resources in Treasury of Daily Prayer. This is a good way to begin using the seasonal antiphons. A person can read the antiphon (such as right now one of the three for Lent found on page O-64) at the beginning of a psalm and then after the Gloria Patri. The same thing can later be done with the orders of service such as Matins and Vespers. You can become familiar with singing these by using “Evening & Morning: The Music of Lutheran Daily Prayer” (http://www.cph.org/p-11548-evening-morning-music-of-lutheran-daily-prayer-cd.aspx?SearchTerm=The%20Music%20of%20Lutheran%20Daily%20Prayer). This recording of the Daily Prayer Offices was ade by The Seminary Kantorei of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN.
V. What about all those ribbons?
Users are often intimidated by the six colored ribbons that come with the book and the directions describing how to use them in the first pages. Don’t be. The ribbons serve a very simple purpose. They are meant to mark the parts of the book you use so that you can quickly turn to the needed material in the course of your devotions. You may not need to use all the ribbons when you first start using Treasury of Daily Prayer. In addition, remember: there is no “correct” way to use the ribbons. You simply need to find a pattern that allows you to remember that a certain color marks a specific kind of material in the book. So for example, in my office at church right now I use Matins in the morning when I arrive and the Noon section of Daily Prayer for Individuals and Families before lunch. In my system the yellow ribbon marks the proper for that day. The blue ribbon marks Matins and the green ribbon marks the Noon service so that I can find them easily. The red ribbon marks the Invitatories, Antiphons and Responsories so that I can use them. The purple ribbon marks the Psalms since I use the whole psalm indicated in the propers. And the green ribbon marks the Small Catechism. Decide on what works best for you and do that – it’s all about marking the parts you want to use.
VI. But what about Portals of Prayer?
As a parish pastor I have learned that you don’t mess with Portals of Prayer. You had better make sure that the new ones are out long before the current one is finished. And you should probably assume that people will still want to use it. Portals of Prayer is a great resource. We should note however that it exposes the reader to a very small amount of Scripture. As a pastor, I want to encourage people to be reading more of the Bible each day than ten verses or so and a psalm. One way to use both Treasury of Daily Prayer and Portals of Prayer is to use Portals of Prayer for a devotional reading at a different time than you use Treasury of Daily Prayer. Another way would be to use the Portals of Prayer devotional reading as a “Writing” at one of the times when you use Treasury of Daily Prayer.
VII. Take, read and pray
I highly recommend Treasury of Daily Prayer because it encourages a regular devotional life that is built around praying the Psalms, reading of Scripture and praying in the rhythm of the Church year. We are blessed to have such a devotional resource available. If you are interested in Treasury of Daily Prayer, I am sure that your pastor will be more than happy to show you a copy.