The Divine Hours

A complete guide to the ancient practice of fixed-hour Prayer

From Tools for Your Journey

- Walking the Labyrinth


Guided Journaling on



Like the laborers in this story that Jesus told, we often judge our own and others’ worth by the amount of time that is given to an endeavor. Another way to think about this is to consider the question, “If there were no time, how would I live out my day?”

For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. After agreeing with the laborers for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When he went out about nine o’clock, he saw others standing idle in the marketplace; and he said to them, “You also go into the vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.” So they went. When he went out again about noon and about three o’clock, he did the same. And about five o’clock he went out and found others standing around; and he said to them, “Why are you standing here idle all day?” They said to him, “Because no one has hired us.” He said to them, “You also go into the vineyard.” When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to this manager, “Call the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and then going to the first.” When those hired about five o’clock came, each of them received the usual daily wage. Now when the first came, they thought they would receive more; but each of them also received the usual daily wage. And when they received it, they grumbled against the landowner, saying, “These last worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat.” But he replied to one of them, “Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage? Take what belongs to you and go; I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you. Am I not allowed to do what I choose with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?” So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

—Matthew 20: 1-16
New Revised Standard Version NRSV

When we see the end of life approaching, the reality of time is much more intense. Like the king in the following story, we will do almost anything to extend our time. If that prayer is answered, the question becomes, “How will we make use of the extended time we are given?”

In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die; you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord: “Remember now, O Lord, I implore you, how I have walked before you in faithfulness with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” Hezekiah wept bitterly. Before Isaiah had gone out of the middle court, the word of the Lord came to him: “Turn back, and say to Hezekiah prince of my people, Thus says the Lord, the God of your ancestor David: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; indeed I will heal you; on the third day you shall go up to the house of the Lord. I will add fifteen years to your life.”

—II Kings 20:1-6a
New Revised Standard Version NRSV