The Prayer of the Morning

Posted under The Rectory Bulletin

“O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3).

Mornings are times of routines, the small habits which get you started on the day before your brain fully wakes us. Then there are those routines which take place once the morning coffee has done its job: the dishwasher is emptied; the curtains are dragged back to their home at the sides of the window; and the phone or tablet is prodded into life.

All that is done in these dawn-time habits set the path for the upcoming day, and it is not surprising that throughout the history of the church prayer in the morning has been held to be a precious routine. Over time a rich pattern of prayer formed within the monasteries, but it would be foolish to think that regular daily prayer is simply the preserve of the monk or nun. When Cranmer put together the Book of Common prayer it was his intention that all in the parish would join in raising voices of praise twice a day. As Spurgeon put it: “The morning is the gate of the day, and should be well guarded with prayer. It is one end of the thread on which the day’s actions are strung, and should be well knotted with devotion”.

So what might this routine look like in practice? Maybe you could seek to read a passage of scripture, perhaps working through a book paragraph by paragraph. Prayer would be said, maybe drawing on a list of people and concerns. You could pray through a psalm, letting it guide your thoughts. Maybe you could say the Lord’s Prayer, and dwell on each of the lines as you use it as a pattern for your prayer. The key thing is routine, and a pattern to the beginning to the day. The prayers of the morning are the guard on the “gate of the day”.

St Julian of Cilicia

“By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which he was commended as righteous, God commending him by accepting his gifts. And through his faith, though he died, he still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4) - Born in Cilicia (southern Turkey) in the second half of the third century, Julian was a man of rank. His father was a senator, and his mother - crucially - was a Christian. When he reached eighteen a great persecution of Christians broke out under Emperor Diocletian who ruled from 284-305. Julian soon found himself in the hands of Marcian, who proved to be a brutal magistrate and wanted to break the young man’s resolve.

Holy Musing

“My heart became hot within me. As I mused, the fire burned…” (Psalm 39:3) - One of the great losses of our increasingly instant and distracted culture is the gift of musing. How many hours of musing have been sacrificed to scrolling on Facebook, or have been lost as the phone rings, the email pings and the doorbell tings? These days musing has had to become an art form, something which is repackaged and sold to us under the brand of Mindfulness. These days it seems that only men of a certain age lean on a gate and stare.

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