How to pray well in the morning

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice;
    in the morning I lay my requests before you
    and wait expectantly.
- Psalm 5:3 NIV

 

My “Prayer for the Day” in a daily devotional I use reads, “I pray that I may not let God be crowded out by the hurly-burly of life.  I pray that I may seek God early and often.”  Having that morning grounding in God can ward off many a problem simply because our consciousness of God’s spirit in the world gives us a lens through which we see things as God does.  It also clears the mind and clarifies our thinking about those things that are most important in the upcoming hours.

 

That being said, not all of us are morning people.  It’s hard enough to drag our protesting bodies out of that nice, cozy bed. Yet, if we get up an extra 15 or 20 minutes early, it would be enough to give our days an infinitely better start – and end.

 

For some of us, speaking or writing right off the bat in the morning is an obstacle to prayer.  In that case, contemplative prayer or meditation may be just the ticket for you.  No words are used in these practices and they have proven to be trusted ways to deepen one’s prayer life and relationship with God. There are numerous articles and instructions on the Internet to help you get started if you just Google “contemplative prayer” and/or “meditation.”

 

If these options don’t resonate with you, there are written prayers from traditional to contemporary that you can read and ponder from all manner of sources.  One that is used in spiritual retreats and other settings is called "St. Patrick's Breastplate" because of those parts of it that seek God's protection. It is also known as "The Deer's Cry" or "The Lorica".  St. Patrick is credited with writing the prayer in 433 AD.

 

This adaptation of the prayer is not nearly so long as the full version and lends itself well to a morning devotional time.  Aside from its beauty, its call for Christ’s presence in every way possible, leaves the pray-er with a full sense of having laid out his/her need for Christ in the coming day or upcoming circumstances.  The following is the shortened, adapted version:

 

I arise today 
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

Christ with me,
Christ before me,
Christ behind me,
Christ in me,
Christ beneath me,
Christ above me,
Christ on my right,
Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down,
Christ when I sit down,
Christ when I arise,
Christ in the heart of every man who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in every eye that sees me,
Christ in every ear that hears me.

I arise today
Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through belief in the Threeness,
Through confession of the Oneness
of the Creator of creation.

 

The apostle Paul wrote about Christians being able to put on the full armor of God in Ephesians 6:11 as protection against adversity. St. Patrick’s breastplate is a way to pray that safeguards a good beginning to a new day.  May you find it to be so.