St. Paul urged the earliest Christians to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Over the centuries, the Church developed a way to help people, especially clerics and religious, to pray at regular intervals throughout the day. This traditional practice is known as the Liturgy of the Hours, or Divine Office.
The prayers associated with the Liturgy of the Hours center around psalms and canticles from the Scriptures, and are devised so that “the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God” (Catechism 1174); they are like an extension of the celebration of Mass into everyday life.
Pope John Paul II reaffirmed the call of the Second Vatican Council for families to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together (Familiaris Consortio, 61). If you’d like to try praying the Liturgy of the Hours with your family, you’ll either need to purchase a book containing the official prayers (called a breviary), download a free app, or find a resource adapting those prayers for use by the laity. You can find links to these options below.
Even if your family doesn’t pray all of the official prayers every three hours, it offers a good launching point for a daily devotional practice. For example, you might set smart phone alarms for morning, noon, and night prayer times. Then you might lead your kids in the Canticle of Simeon, the Angelus, and the Canticle of Mary (Magnificat) at those times; or you might choose another traditional prayer to say.
For some simple prayer options for praying during the “major hours” of the day, see:
Catechism of the Catholic Church 1174–1178
Liturgy of the Hours
Here’s the full Liturgy of the Hours in four volumes from the Catholic Book Publishing Corp.
An online app containing a digital breviary as well as a variety of other liturgical texts.
The Swiss army knife of Catholic apps, and includes the full (British) text of the Liturgy of the Hours.