Did you know that the Catholic church has two official prayers? They are the Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours (formerly known as the Divine Office). If you aren't familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, check out the Universalis website.The link I gave you will describe the structure of the Liturgy of the Hours and will link you to today's prayers. Priests are supposed to pray all the Hours daily, either by themselves or with others. Religious communities generally say one or more of the Hours as a group. Contemplative religious schedule their days around praying the Liturgy of the Hours as a group.
Like the mass readings are picked for us and follow a regular cycle, so are the readings and prayers in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is a universal prayer of the Universal Church, but many of the laity either have never heard of it, or have no understanding of how it works. Sets of books are available but the initial cost is intimidating for those who are just starting to explore this prayer form. The books themselves are not self-explanatory, and come with multiple ribbons with which to mark the book before prayer begins. Recently, websites have begun offering the Liturgy of the Hours. Universalis allows you to read the Hours online, or download them to your PDA. Divine Office.org allows you to listen to a group pray the Hours, as well read them. The Benedictine Nuns of Perpetual Adoration record Morning and Evening Prayer, so that you can listen online or download it.
If you'd like to pray at least part of the Liturgy of the Hours, Magnificat Magazine, which I will review in my next post, is a helpful go-anywhere resource.