Can Laity pray the Liturgy of the Hours?

I heard that it is a mortal sin if priest do not pray the Liturgy of the Hours unless they cannot physically do it.

But can Laity, if they wished to, at any point just pray the Liturgy of the Hours? Or is Laity forbidden to pray it?


Yes of course you can pray the liturgy of the hours. Why do you think this would be forbidden?

The Liturgy of the Hours is the official prayer of the Church. Anyone can pray it, at church, at home, in a park, the subway…

I hope so. I have been for 15+ years :D;)

Of course you can! And you should try it – it will change your life.

Yes! I have been doing it for 12 years.

I might also point out that most seminarians are required by the discipline of their particular house to pray at least some part of it, namely the hours which are done communally, and are encouraged to continually deepen their devotion to such. The only seminarians who are not lay people are the deacons about to be ordained to the priesthood, and so there is some instance where laymen are in some way obligated to pray it. Of course, in this case, there is no canonical obligation to pray it–only clergy and religious are obligated to do so by canon law.


It is a requirement (not sure if by canon law) for Benedictine Oblates, Franciscan seculars and Carmelites, IIRC.

The books are available in good Catholic bookstores, and the laity are encouraged to pray it. You could start with Shorter Christian Prayer, I was given my first copy by a priest friend who had an extra.

There is an even simpler book but I forgot what it was called.

If you have a priest friend it would help getting started, otherwise it can be confusing. One could ask the pastor if he knows anyone in the parish who has experiance and can pray with you for a while, it is very nice done this way.

Yes of Course!

If you have any questions on how to pray the liturgy of the hours, talk to your parish priest, as it can be rather daunting at first



If you want to pray the traditional monastic office:

Generally, the obligation for members of lay orders to pray the LOTH is not on pain of mortal sin, and is not always the entire Office, that is, it might be Lauds and Vespers only, rather than all of the hours. That obligation is also prescribed by the superior, as it were, of the lay order, not by canon law.

I do it when I can, my job permitting.
Much easier to do in the off-season when I am on down time I admit.

Thanks for the clarification :slight_smile: Indeed we pray Lauds and Vespers. :slight_smile:

During Lent, I mustared up the courage to ask some of the regulars at daily Mass if they would teach me the Liturgy of the Hours, and they were more than generous.

I have since purchased my own copy and it is a prayer devotion that I look forward to upon awakening and before retiring, a really lovely way to worship and praise our Heavenly Father.

I love the fact that if I can’t make it to Church for Mass during the week and participate in that way, that there is someone, someplace joining my voice in praise and thanks to God with the same exact words at the same exact time that I am when I’m at home. To me, that is unity!

One of the actual aspirations of the Second Vatican Council was that the laity (individually, in groups, or as part of their parish community) would participate in this great prayer of the Church, the Divine Office (or Liturgy of the Hours):
Pastors of souls should see to it that the chief hours, especially Vespers, are celebrated in common in church on Sundays and the more solemn feasts. And the laity, too, are encouraged to recite the divine office, either with the priests, or among themselves, or even individually. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 100)

Of course the laity can!

You can even do so with no money down, no purchase necessary. Seriously! You can find the entire Office on or on the iBreviary app (iOS or Android, or on the web).


I use this abridged version of the Divine Office from Angelus Press: Divine Office (for the Laity)

This fine edition contains the hours that were traditionally prayed in common for each day - Prime (morning), Sext (midday) and Compline (bedtime). Figuring out the flow and how it works can be a bit of a challenge at first but it’s worth it. I have been praying these hours on a daily basis for some time and I cannot imagine my day without these prayers. It has enriched my life considerably and there’s something wonderful about turning your mind to God on a regular basis throughout the day.

The bulk of the Divine Office consists of the psalms which, after all, are the very prayers given to us by God through divine inspiration to David and a few others. If you are wondering about this and perhaps feels the calling to pursue it, definitely do so! It is very rewarding and there are many graces to be had from it.

Hi Luigi,

It’s not an obligation as such for oblates to pray the entire Office every day. It’s an obligation to pray it as much as our condition in life allows it. That could mean one Office a week or one Office a day, or the whole thing, or some days the whole thing and other days a part of it. Or it could be what your superior requires (the rest of course being optional).

But for sure were not supposed to just ignore it.

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