I'm also thankful that BC points us to a posting at The Rector's Corner that offers a good introduction to the Daily Office. There we read:
The heart of the Daily Office consists of the Psalms and the Lessons. This is the “illuminative” face of prayer par excellence. When considering the vastness of the Scriptures, it can be daunting, though: “Where to start?” one might rightfully ask. A solution sometimes suggested is to start at the beginning of the Bible and go to the end. This can be useful for some people, but most find it impossible to maintain and/or mystifying in the extreme. It also means that one does not get to the Gospel for quite a while.
Fortunately, the Church has an easier and more practical answer available.
That answer is the lectionary, "an orderly and extensive reading of the Bible" with selections from the Old Testament, the New Testament epistles (sometimes the Book of Revelation), and the Gospels appointed for each day of the Church calendar year.
Reading the Bible in accordance with the lectionary and in the context of the liturgies of Morning and Evening Prayer is a disciplined yet powerful way to encounter the living Christ in our daily lives. And, as The Rector's Corner notes, the canticles - the songs of praise read or sung in thankful response to the scripture readings - help to facilitate that encounter:
The canticles ... provide a response to the lesson just read. They remind us the scriptures are not “data” to be consumed but encounters with God, moments of transformation to be pondered and integrated into our full being.
The Latin for "office" is officium meaning "service" or "duty." And so the Daily Office is one's Daily Service or Daily Duty. The ordination vows do not explicitly require clergy in the Episcopal Church to read the Daily Office, but it is one of the most reliable and deeply Anglican ways to fulfill the promise to "persevere in prayer." And while it may seem that approaching one's prayer life as a "duty" to fulfill in accordance with fixed liturgical forms in The Book of Common Prayer is old-fashioned, legalistic, and even lifeless, my experience has been just the opposite. After 15 or so years of trying to be faithful to the Daily Office, I have discovered it to be a spiritual anchor and a lifeline to God.
I have also discovered that the fixed character of the liturgy coupled with the movement through books of the Bible offers an important way to move me beyond an introspective preoccupation with myself. The Daily Office serves as a vehicle of transcendence, opening me to the grace and presence of the God who utterly surpasses all that I can think or imagine, and who is yet closer to me than my own breathing. From time to time, there can be surprises when a well-known canticle or collect, or a scripture reading that just happens to be appointed for this particular day, speaks directly to something I'm struggling with or going through. I don't know if that would have happened if I had been trying to make it happen. But it's a powerful reminder that, as the Prayer Book's catechism puts it, "God still speaks to us through the Bible," and not just through the Bible, but also through the whole of the Daily Office.
I give thanks for the gift of the Daily Office as part of the bedrock of my faith and spiritual practice. And I commend it to you.
If you are interested in learning more about how to observe the Daily Offices of Morning and Evening Prayer, read the above-cited posting at The Rector's Corner entitled "Day by Day we praise you: an introduction to the Daily Office." Also check out "The Daily Office Tutorial" at Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi. I also recommend reading Derek's posting "Promoting the Daily Office" at haligweorc. You can also pray the Daily Office online at St. Bede's Breviary and at The Daily Office from the Mission of St. Clare.