Morning Prayer (Rev. 1: 9, 10a)
It started out like any other Sunday. The Apostle-pastor John was in prayer early that morning, preparing and pouring out his heart to God, just like seekers and followers of Jesus are wont to do.
Insert here the sound of tires screeching to a sudden halt. Read that phrase again. “…just like seekers and followers of Jesus are wont to do.” What is this ‘wont’ word all about? Is it ‘want’ misspelled? The Mac Thesaurus says it means, “accustomed, used, given, and inclined”. Does that sound accurate? Is the average God-seeker accustomed and inclined to pray early in the morning, pouring out spirit and soul to God? Are we positioned through disciplined preparation of our hearts to actually have regular appointments with God? Are we as comfortable “in the Spirit” as we are catching those extra minutes of sleep in the comfort of our queen-sized beds each morning?
Let’s face it: we are a me generation. We believe everything revolves around us. Prayer interests us when we have a burning request to make, but beyond that, it’s a bit of an albatross round our necks. We’d rather sling it off the back of our necks where it can more easily be ignored, than have it at the front interrupting our days’ activities. But what about the daily, devoted, worshipful prayer, centered on God by which this fellow John seems to have been characterized? We are more used to ignoring that kind; we’ve stayed up so late the night before, catering to our own appetites for leisure, we don’t have time or energy in the morning the way John did this particular morning.
Perhaps this tendency to defer morning prayer to the whims of the previous evening is the reason ancient Jewish culture viewed the calendar day beginning at dinnertime. The evening’s activities, then, were the start of the hours to follow. They were knit more tightly to the night’s rest, the morning’s rising, and the daytime’s productive work. Perhaps ordering their lives this way prevented the chaos of the morning-rise that follows late and reluctant sleep-taking.
Why bother with morning prayer anyway? we ask. It’s easier to fit snippets of prayer into our busy schedules in the haze before sleep. Prayer is comforting; it’s the gentle whisper ‘good-night’ we breathe to the One we love before closing our eyes to rest. But when we wake, don’t we utter ‘good-morning’ greetings to our dearest ones? Don’t we discuss our day’s plans looking out at morning skies?
There is also the matter of setting our day’s priorities and loyalties clearly in mind following the mist of the night’s unconscious dream-state. If God is first and foremost in our lives, we must remind ourselves of the fact. It’s not a given; His lordship won’t stay our set point unless we consciously attend to it. The world of our whirlwind work-day will be shouting at us for the next eight to ten hours other messages, like: God is irrelevant; look out for number one; whoever has the most toys when he dies wins; and indulge yourself—you deserve it!
Morning prayer is the prophylaxis, the immunization against those soul-destroying messages the daylight hours will be hurling at us. Are we strong enough to repel their insidious barbs without a morning prayer-respite?
When John begins his day in prayer, we are faced with our first challenge, our first lesson from the book of Revelation. Everything else we’ll be hearing follows that tutorial. Lesson One is being able to say, like John, “It was Sunday (or Monday or Thursday), and I was in the Spirit, praying.”
(Picture Credit: F.D. Harding, A Prayer for Those at Sea)