“As the Prophet says: Seven times a day I have given you praise (Ps 119 : 164). We will complete this sacred number of seven if at the times of Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Complinewe fulfill the duties of our office. For it was of these daytime hours that he said, Seven times a day have I given you praise (Ps 119 : 164): just as the same Prophet said concerning Vigils, At midnight I arose to give praise to you (Ps 119: 62). At these times, therefore, we should sing the praise of our Creator for his just judgments: Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline; and at night let us arise to give him praise (Ps 119: 164, 62)”. These are the words of Chapter 16 of the Rule of Saint Benedict.
These are the times for prayer: Lauds, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers, and Compline are performed during the day and Vigils are prayed at night. This honor and habit of prayer we see started in the psalms. We find directions for prayer 7 times per day in Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is sited to bring us to our center in daily habits and rituals. It is here that we find God affirming a deep need we have in our natural rhythms and patterns in life. The habit of praying 7 times a day comes to us from the Jewish people and the old testament, directed to us by God, to answer a deed natural need in our creation. The prayer trains our deep natural rhythms and patterns to help us become our best selfs.
Lauds is Morning prayer or prayer at day brake. Prime is mid morning prayer, Terce is early afternoon prayer, None is afternoon prayer, Sext is late afternoon prayer, Vespers is evening prayer, Compline is prayer at the end of the day. Vigil is Midnight or very early morning before the sun rises. Cistertians of the Strict Observance pray all these hours in the oratory as a group. Benedictines normally pray Lauds, None, and Vespers in the oratory, and Vigils, Prime, Terce, Sext, and Compline in private. Cistertians of the Common Observance, vary in praying all the hours in the oratory to praying the three hours the Benedictines pray in the oratory, with most favoring to pray all the hours in the oratory. The Divine Office is just a part of the Benedictine prayer life. Benedictines also pray in labor, study, lectcio Divina, meditation, and contemplation.
The Divine Office is very special and important part to the complete prayer life of Monks and Oblates. For Saint Benedict teaches the Divine Office in total as How the Work of God Is to be Performed.
Praying the Divine Office is a lot of work. It is very specific praying psalms, lessons 7 times a day if one prays the full office. Now these prayers do help those of us that suffer greatly in the fact that we have deep spiritual and natural needs as part of us in the way that God created us. Praying these seven offices addresses these needs and sets natural rhythms and patterns that address the natural and spiritual needs we were created with. Addressing these needs cleans our souls of the stains of sin by suffering and praying. This gives us strength to be an example for our community and strengthen the Church Militant. This also helps us to reach to the souls that suffer in Purgatory. The prayers themselves unite our suffering with the suffering of Jesus Christ.