In Divine office or Liturgy of the Hours as it is practiced in Catholic Church there's nothing bad for Protestants (or at least nothing of which I know that Protestants consider bad); prayer is good for all Christians and Psalms are a good basis. However, most Protestants don't pray this way. Why?

Did any of the reformers condemn it? Or did this tradition just fade away over time?

EDIT: I'm adding , because I'm interrested mostly in the time when Liturgy of Hours vanished from practice of most Protestants (16th or 17th century? I don't know exactly). Modern Protestants' point of view has some value, but the best answer shouldn't rely on practice/ doctrine nowadays. I know that some denominations practice it (especially Lutherans); these are excluded from "protestantism" for this question's sake.

I imagine citation of some reformer, founder of some denomination, or at least a notable convert who prayed Liturgy of Hours before (i.e. former Catholic priest) or at least knew the practice and wrote anything about it. I'm not sure whether such a source is even available.

Less direct citations + few words on context and how it applies to Liturgy of Hours are also OK. For example some of early criticisms against prayer in someone other's words, including words of Bible, by someone who influenced some of the major branches of Protestantism. Such a criticism could apply if it sounds plausible to audience accustomed to Liturgy of Hours, though not necessarily understanding its significance - so "vain repetitions" as Narnian suggested are based on ignorance of the prayer's structure and therefore not acceptable to anyone knowing it, but fear of praying "only at set times" as LCIII mentioned could be easily accepted by someone who prayed it regularly for a long time, but didn't discover its value as a backbone of constant prayer.

An answer based solely on reasoning and Bible citations can be (temporarily) accepted as well if at least some of its points likely played role in the beginning of Protestantism. However, if some answer with solid historical reasoning and/or citations appears later, I will definitely accept the new one instead.

  • 5
    Sadly, in the 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, just being "too Catholic" was reason enough for most Protestants to dislike a thing. There was (and in some places still is) a very, very strong anti-Catholic sentiment amongst many Protestants. Feb 12, 2013 at 13:52
  • 2
    As a Baptist, I got quite an earful when I added John Paul II to our prayer list back in '05. Feb 12, 2013 at 13:52

5 Answers 5


Protestantism is so broad that you can't avoid getting a broad answer. As the protestant church has no official head there is no official answer and there was never an official LOTH rejection meeting. Furthermore, some Protestant denominations still do practice LOTH. The best you can do in this case is summarize the most common Protestant beliefs and come up with the most probable yet not all-encompassing conclusions.

Here's a list with (I think) the most probable reasons to the least probable.

Protestants are more than likely not going to follow Liturgy of The Hours because...

  • ...there are prayers to the saints/dead, which Protestants believe isn't good, so they'll throw whole Liturgy out--baby and bath water.
  • ...it makes the prayer seem insincere, as opposed to a sincere, unscripted, heart-felt prayer conversation with God. The Protestant would cite this verse as their reasoning:

    Psalm 62:8 ESV Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us.

  • ...setting a required time to pray gives the impression that that is the only or best time one needs to pray, when prayers should be constant. The Protestant would cite these verses as their reasoning:

    1 Thessalonians 5:17 ESV ...pray without ceasing.

    1 Thessalonians 1:2 ESV We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers,

    2 Timothy 1:3 ESV I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day.

  • ...it's Catholic, and Protestants tend to buck against anything that Catholics promote.

  • ...it's not in the Bible. Protestants are all about accepting no doctrine except that which is explicitly stated in the scriptures.
  • ...it's unnecessary. While more open-minded Protestants may consider the Liturgy of the Hours helpful in its structure (ignoring prayers to the saints/dead), many would categorize it as just another reading/prayer plan similar to ones you could buy at a Christian bookstore. They give it no added spiritual significance.
  • This is better than the previous accepted answer - this summarizes more reasons why modern protestants usually don't pray Liturgy of Hours. I'm almost sure that points 1 and 3 applied in the 16th century as well. However, the point of praying X times a day is so that the prayer lingered on (in a less-formal and usually less explicit manner) after each time of prayer, helping to pray constantly; first reformers likely knew this. And there are mentions about praising God by singing psalms (like Eph 5,19) and praising God seven times a day (Ps 119,164), so essense of this practice IS in Bible.
    – Pavel
    Aug 26, 2014 at 15:30
  • you should make point 3 point 1
    – user4060
    Aug 27, 2014 at 1:20
  • your first point is wrong for Jesus gave a script
    – user4060
    Aug 27, 2014 at 7:55
  • 1
    @caseyr547 You're right, Jesus did give us a script. This is just a list of most probable reasons a protestant would reject the Liturgy--it's not meant to be all-encompassing of every protestant. I'm protestant and the biggest reason I don't do the LOTH is because of my last point.
    – LCIII
    Aug 27, 2014 at 11:51
  • @LCIII most books of the bible contain a prayer script or at least a confession. I suggest you read All the Prayers of the Bible
    – user4060
    Aug 27, 2014 at 21:41

The key issue is not what is in the prayers, but that the prayers are repetitive. It seems to follow from this that prayers would not arise from a person's heart. Protestants generally believe pretty strongly that prayer should be spontaneous from a person's heart--not words that someone else wrote for them to read or recite.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught us not to use "vain repetitions":

But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Matthew 6:7 KJV

The Psalmist also entreats us to pour out our hearts to God. In order to do this, rote prayers seems counterproductive.

Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before him; God is a refuge for us. Psalm 68:8 ESV

In fact, the Psalms are full of people pouring out their hearts to God. So, the model appears to be to pray from the heart rather than to repeat what others have written for us to pray. Of course, Protestants typically believe pretty strongly that we should read the Scriptures pretty regularly.


The Anglican church has not entirely done away with this, and has the Book of Common Prayer which has prayers and Psalms as well as bible readings, confessions, and creeds for each day of the week, as well as for group meetings, communion, weddings, funerals and so on.

The structure of Prayer in Protestant churches is often taught based on prayers and Psalms in the bible. I don't know of any Protestant teaching that would discourage someone from praying from any bible passage.

In fact, at our church on Sunday (an Anglican church in Sydney, Australia) we prayed Psalm 51 as a prayer of confession.

  • 1
    I don't consider Anglicanism to be a subset of Protestantism, at least for the purpose of this question.
    – Pavel
    Feb 28, 2013 at 15:31
  • @Pavel then that just proves that your question is based on false premises.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 2, 2014 at 6:55
  • @curiousdannii: how? It would be based on a false premise if I didn't exclude those who pray Liturgy of the Hours from "most protestants" for the question's sake. I know that Anglicans and some Protestants pray it, but I also know that most Protestants left this practice - the question is about the reasons of those who left it.
    – Pavel
    Sep 2, 2014 at 7:07

Each Protestant body does different things. Remember, "Protestant" is not a denomination. Various bodies actually do practice it, including Lutherans. As a Lutheran, we have it in our Divine Service book. There is also the Book of Common Prayer available. We don't see it as "vain repetition", but rather a solid structure - just as many recite the Lord's Prayer from time to time. It all depends on the denomination's interpretation of scripture.


My reply is generic because not all Protestants believe the same things, there is a great variance with that wide-ranging, generic term which historically refers to protesting against the Catholic Church or what it believes.

For the first replier, it certainly has nothing to do with vain repetitions, otherwise Protestants would only pray the Our Father once in their lives, yet when Jesus was teaching his disciples to pray, that is what he told them to say. The Liturgy of the Hours is not nearly as repetitious overall.

It seems to me it was probably a combination of the knee-jerk reaction and being repulsed by anything Catholic, based upon my own experiences in leaving and returning to the Catholic Church (for completely different reasons: I left because I was uncatechized and I could not answer the criticisms & returned as I became convinced the Catholic Church was correct). It seems more a emotional reaction, not a premeditated plan to reject something bad in Catholicism. Surely no believing Protestant who loves God would ever reject the recitation of the Psalms, Scripture readings, etc. which are mostly directly from Scripture. They may raise an objection to the so-called "Catholic" books of Scripture, but this is a smaller subset of the readings and is in the minority because percentage-wise, there are only 7 books and a couple chapters that are objected to compared with a 66 books on which we all agree.

  • I'm glad to see your enthusiasm to make answers. Take a look at those meta posts I linked to before you make any more. I can tell that you have a lot to offer. The site prefers academic answers. That means exhaustive answers with sources. I'm going to give you a +1 here to encourage you to come back. You'll get plenty more if you can mimic other answers that you see here with a high score.
    – user3961
    Aug 28, 2014 at 2:42
  • Thanks. I'm new here. I'll have to take more time when I reply in the future.
    – Dcn. Andy
    Aug 28, 2014 at 3:14
  • Yes, please do. The community here will surely enjoy reading your well thought out posts. Take the extra time and you will get plenty of upvotes.
    – user3961
    Aug 28, 2014 at 4:43

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