“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”.