So last Friday my youngest Daughter had surgery. It was nothing serious, just a routine tonsillectomy, but all the same, it’s not a fun surgery for a three year old. So she’s kept me and my wife a little busier the past few days waiting on her. She’s insisted on sleeping with us because she “don feewl gwood”. This of course translates to a lack of sleep for all, even with a king size bed. Between me spending extra time taking care of my daughter, or doing a little bit more running with our other two that still are at home, taking them to piano, school meetings, sports etc. I seem to have forgotten about God.
No, I didn’t forget about God. But my morning and evening prayer time has certainly been turned upside down the past 5 days. Where as I normally spend about 40 minutes each morning in prayer, i found myself watching Sponge-Bob this morning with a three year old on my lap. I realized that morning prayer wasn’t going to happen, and I thought to myself that I’ll make up for it this afternoon at nap time. There was no nap-time today. Stuff like this can happen for a few days do to circumstances or they can go on for weeks. Don’t worry!
Just recognize what’s going on and get back to your prayer life as soon as possible without making excuses. In the meantime, take a minute or less and offer up a little prayer. Any free moment you have, something as simple as “Lord help me” to “Lord thank you”.
I said last time that that I was going to tell you about my morning prayer routine. I don’t expect anyone to do what I do, I am only sharing with you how I pray each morning and what I pray for. What you do with it is up to you of course.
As soon as I am out of bed in the morning I thank God for another day. I offer everything I do this day for God. Then I put on a pot of coffee and depending on my wife’s schedule, I either make sure she’s up, or let her sleep until it’s time for her to get up.
This is when I sit down in my chair with my coffee and open up my Breviary. A Breviary is book or set of books that has the prayers of the Catholic Church called The Liturgy of the Hours. The Liturgy of the Hours evolved from the Temple prayers of the Jews of Jesus time when they would go to the Temple at different times of the day and pray Psalms. I pray a little prayer at the beginning of Morning Prayer, asking God to help me to be a better Christian, a better husband, a better father, a better man. I ask God to keep my children and grandchildren safe and protect them from evil. I ask God to watch over my wife as she commutes to work each day and to protect and keep her safe at work. I offer up my Morning Prayer for my family.
Morning Prayer begins with usually Psalm 95, a call to worship and prayer. Their normally is an opening song, but this is optional. Then a psalm or an excerpt of a psalm is prayed, followed with a short prayer, then an Old Testament canticle such as a poem or song is prayed followed by another short prayer, then another Psalm is prayed which that is followed with a short prayer. After that a short (usually 2 verses) reading is read, followed up with a responsary which usually from 2 scripture verses. Then is the Benedictus, that is the song of Zachariah from Luke chapter 1. After the Benedicus prayers of petitions are prayed followed with the Lord’s prayer and then a closing prayer. The Liturgy of the Hours is almost 100% scripture.
If I take my time, If I meditate on each of the psalms and the scripture reading, this usually takes me 15-20 minutes. As the name implies, Morning Prayer is usually prayed in the morning. There is another prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours that traditionally was prayed before Morning Prayer, but in fact is free to be prayed anytime during the day. This is called the Office of Readings.
The Office of Readings is a much longer office than Morning Prayer. But I find it very very enlightening and beneficial. It’s made up of three Psalms, OR usually One very long Psalm that’s split up into three passages. Then followed by a Scripture reading that is usually a full chapter, sometimes more depending on the length of chapter and then followed with a non-scriptural reading from an early Church father. It could be sermon given by St. Augustine in the 5th century, or an excerpt from St. Justin Martyr’s first apology in 155 A.D. It’s something different every day, usually having to go with the topic of the Scripture reading. These Scripture readings always flow through sequentially from the day before. Many times entire books are read over the course of a week or two.
Again, it’s such a beautiful way to pray Holy Scripture. This is my Morning Prayer routine. I am blessed to have a chapel at work and I spend time there during my lunch hour in prayer too. I don’t believe one can ever pray too much. But It doesn’t have to be structured liturgical prayer either, although there is nothing wrong with it. If you get in a rut, don’t worry. Recognize you are and get yourself unstuck spiritually. If you find yourself distracted, don’t worry, find a different time or place to pray. If you don’t know what to pray for, you can always pray for me, but if you don’t want to, that’s OK, pray for your spouse, pray for your children, your parents, grandparents, pray for you enemies just as Jesus instructed us to. Most of all though, pray.