An Early Morning Prayer
November 29, 2015

An Early Morning Prayer

Preacher:
Passage: Isaiah 64 1-9 and Mark 13:24-37

An Early Morning Prayer

Last week I spoke to you about how without the middle part of the life of Jesus, we would be left with a biography like a tombstone. There would be a date of birth and a date of death. We might learn that his birth was surrounded by great expectations and signs and we might learn that his death was not only horrible but probably not even a just death. Beyond that, there would be precious little to encourage us to see him as the Saviour, the one to guarantee the forgiveness of our sin by his blood. There would be precious little to cause us to believe that God had indeed been present in the form of Jesus and encourage us to live our lives both for this time and the future.

I also spoke to you about how the people in the churches in Asia Minor were finding their enthusiasm flagging as they waited for the day of the return of the Lord. Life in the middle between the ascension of Christ and his promised return was getting long. The apostle John encouraged them to remember that all things will come to pass as God has ordained. But in the meantime we are to remain faithful to the God who has been, is and always will be faithful to us and all the people who have, do and will follow the path of God in Christ.

But we all need something in our lives to give us focus. For many people the focus is found in a time of devotion at the beginning of the day. Over the years I have had a number of morning rituals to prepare myself for the day ahead. For about 10 years now I have found myself drawn more to the ancient tradition of the Celtic church and the strong connection that they felt between God, themselves and all creation. The sense of hope, peace and connectedness that I discovered has continued to support me day by day. And while there are prayers for early morning, morning, evening and night, I find that I mostly pray the early morning prayer but I need to make a habit of the night prayer as well.

I usually arise around 6 in the morning and go to my office which is my work and prayer space. My time with God begins by standing and repeating the following:
“As the morning sun brings light to the world once more, I come in prayer to you, my Lord. You created me and you know me. I am your child.”
Before I even ask for anything in prayer, I recognize that the coming of the sun heralds a new day for me to remember my relationship to and with God. I recognize that for me I understand God to have created me and I acknowledge that he knows me. I accept that I am one of his children.

Then follows the prayer which you have heard me recite on more than one occasion. The first thing I ask for is guidance and help. The next thing I ask for is courage, courage to face the problems that lie ahead. I have no doubt that there will be problems and I have no doubt that some of them will take more courage to face and deal with than others.

The next thing I ask for is a heart wide open to the joys God has prepared for me. It is not easy to approach life with an open heart but without an open heart it becomes difficult to receive any joys for a closed heart only sees sorrow and hurt. But I believe that God has prepared for me to find joy and so with an open heart I can recognize it and receive it when it comes.

Only when I have asked for courage and an open heart can I begin to think of asking for forgiveness of my many sins. But I seek forgiveness of my many sins so that I can begin the day anew. The prophet Jeremiah in his book entitled Lamentations reminded the people that the mercy of the Lord fresh each day. God truly does not hold anything against us except what we choose to let be held. Asking for forgiveness in the morning is an opportunity for us to recognize that the grace, mercy and kindness of God are there to be received.

But forgiveness is a two way street; and so the purpose of asking for forgiveness for my many sins is so I can learn to be forgiving and compassionate to others in return.

The purpose of going through this exercise in prayer is so that I can better serve God in a way that is right and pleasing to God in all that I do and all that I say. That is what I long for but it doesn’t mean I will always get it right.

And while that is the main prayer that I pray I then ask for a blessing of God. I seek to bind unto myself the strong name of the Trinity by asking for:
“The love of the Father who made me,
The love of the Son who died for me,
The love of the Spirit who dwells within me,
To bless me and keep me.”

I then go through an action that reflects the ancient Celtic belief in the thin veil that exists between heaven and earth. As a mark of the Trinity which I have asked to bless me, I then draw 3 circles around myself with the index finger of my right hand held high and say:
“May the angels of Heaven protect me this day and circle me with the fragrance of peace.
May Christ my Lord and loving friend protect me this day and circle me with affection and love.
May the Spirit of truth who dwells in my heart protect me this day and circle me and fill me with joy.”

I then close my prayer time with this affirmation:
“My Father, I am your child.
I go forth in your name.
Keep me safe.

There’s no magic in this prayer but there is power, as much power as I am willing to accept and acknowledge. The purpose of my sharing this with you today is to encourage you as you live in the middle of your life in this time to find your meaningful way of recognizing and remembering and living your relationship with God.