The Value of Morning Prayer

(Last modified 2/24/09)

Specific Catholic Prayers useful in the morning.

A Description of Traditional Daily Catholic Prayers - The Sign of the Cross

Also see Examples below. Vocal prayer may be helpful.

"THERE is a freshness about the early morning which belongs to no other period of the day. The sun has a more kindly brightness and the air a fresh crispness which are lost largely as the day grows older. Upon awakening we throw open the window wide and let in the buoyant atmosphere of the newborn day. It fills our lungs and brightens our eye and makes us feel how good it is to live. What the newborn day is to our physical nature the morning prayer is to the life of the soul. It is opening the windows of the heart that the clear air of heaven may flow in. It reinvigorates the life within us and turns our thoughts toward the One we love the most. It is a source of renewed strength, and gives a buoyancy to the spiritual step and a clearness to the inner vision. It floods the heart with the breath of life and bathes it in the sunshine of God's smile.

To begin the day without imploring God's grace and thanking Him for benefits received, is certainly wrong and exposes us to great danger. St. Francis Xavier says: "When you wake in the morning, raise your thoughts at once to heaven, and while you are putting on your clothes and washing your hands and face, call to mind the faults into which you fell the day before, and ask your Lord grace to avoid them this day."

The faithful Christian, before giving himself up to the occupations of the day, will meditate a certain space of time on the commandments of God and the example of Christ." Lasance, My Prayer Book, Benziger Brothers, 1908. Imprimatur, John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York (1908).

  "'We must remember God more often than we draw breath.'[St. Gregory of Nazianzus] But we cannot pray 'at all times' if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it These are the special times of Christian prayer, both in intensity and duration. 2698 The Tradition of the Church proposes to the faithful certain rhythms of praying intended to nourish continual prayer. Some are daily, such as morning and evening prayer, grace before and after meals..." Catechism of the Catholic Church.


Morning Prayer in the Psalms.

"Give ear to my words, O LORD; give heed to my sighing. Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray. O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch." Ps. 5:1-3. NRSV.

"But I will sing of your might; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. For you have been a fortress for me and a refuge in the day of my distress. O my strength, I will sing praises to you, for you, O God, are my fortress, the God who shows me steadfast love." Ps. 59:16-17. NRSV

"Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad as many days as you have afflicted us, and as many years as we have seen evil. Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands - O prosper the work of our hands!" Ps. 90:14-17. NRSV.

"It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High; to declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night..." Ps. 92:1-2, NRSV.

 

"In the morning let me know your love
for I put my trust in you.
Make me know the way I should walk;
to you I lift up my soul."
 
Rescue me, Lord, from my enemies;
I have fled to you for refuge.
Teach me to do your will
for you, O Lord, are my God.
Let your good spirit guide me
in ways that are level and smooth.
 
For your name's sake, Lord, save my life;
in your justice save my soul from distress."

Psalm 143:8-12 Grail Translation. (Compare NAB.)


Editor's note: Although any form, or style, of prayer may be used profitably in the morning, the official morning prayer of the church is from the Liturgy of the Hours, i.e. the Breviary or Divine Office. Traditionally the prayer at morning was called Lauds. To see the morning prayer for today look at the Universalis page for morning prayer.


Morning Meditation

[Editor: Meditation here means thought about God, or some spiritual truth, which leads to conversation with God and application of that truth in our lives. "Meditation is above all a quest. The mind seeks to understand the why and how of the Christian life, in order to adhere and respond to what the Lord is asking." Catechism of the Catholic Church, sec. 2705. See CCC 2705-08.]

"I will meditate on Thee in the morning" Ps. 62:7b. in Douay-Rheims. (Compare NAB. Note that Christian meditation means to think about God and his word.)

"He [the wise man] sets his heart to rise early to seek the Lord who made him, and to petition the Most High; he opens his mouth in prayer and asks pardon for his sins. If the great Lord is willing, he will be filled with the spirit of understanding; he will pour forth words of wisdom of his own and give thanks to the Lord in prayer. The Lord will direct his counsel and knowledge, as he meditates on his mysteries." Sir. 39:5-7. NRSV. NAB.

Ps. 119:97 "Oh, how I love your law! It is my meditation all day long." Compare NAB.

Josh. 1:8 "This book of the law [the commandments] shall not depart out of your mouth; you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to act in accordance with all that is written in it. For then you shall make your way prosperous, and then you shall be successful."

 
As regards the time of meditation, it would be well if we were to make a meditation both in the morning and in the evening. If this is not feasible, we should, if convenient, prefer the morning to any other part of the day. The reason is because in the morning we are fresh in mind and have as yet hardly any cause for distractions, while later in the day we are apt to be more or less absorbed by our occupations and other worldly matters. Moreover, by a good meditation in the morning we begin the day well, drawing down God's blessing on us, and deriving grace and strength to avoid sin and fulfill our obligations. When we make our meditation in the morning, we ought to prepare its subject on the eve before retiring to rest, and make thereon some brief reflections before falling asleep, and also after rising in the morning. We ought, moreover, to recall our meditation to mind from time to time during the day, recommending our resolution to the Blessed Virgin by a Hail Mary.
 
Mark 1:35 "In the morning, while it was still very dark, he [Jesus] got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed." NAB.


1. A Sample Morning Prayer

 
1. Begin with the sign of the cross.
A. "O God come to my assistance. O Lord make haste to help me." (See A Scriptural Prayer to Aid Prayer.)
B. Sing a hymn if you like. (Since God is the only one listening, don't worry about how it sounds.) Lyrics and Melodies, Traditonal Catholic music, including Gregorian chant, with midi, Traditional Catholic Hymns (slow); and the Canadian Book of Worship III.
2. Prayers from the Psalms.
A. For something penitential try Psalm 51. Or if you feel distant from God, try Ps. 139: 1-18.
B. Next you could use Psalm 143:8-12 and Psalm 145:1-21, both of which are above. (You might find useful
a Prayer Guide for the Psalms, part one, and part two. Also background to the Psalms and their importance.) Other possible Psalms for Morning Prayer are 3, 5, 94, 95. You can find the Psalms for the day at the Universalis page for morning prayer, or at the Bluecloud Abbey. Also you might try Table of Psalms for Feasts and Seasons, or the Blessing Psalter.
C. In the liturgy of the hours three psalms are said with a prayer following each psalm. If you pause to meditate on the Psalm's meaning you could compose a short prayer based on your meditation. For those who would like to download the texts to use in family and group prayer, go to the Liturgy of the Hours Apostolate.
3. The end of Morning Prayer would include
A. A reading from Scripture. You could have the habit of starting at the beginning of the New Testament and read a story or section each day.
B. In the Liturgy of the Hours you would read the Canticle of Zechariah, Luke 1:68-79.
C. Then you would ask God your specific intentions for yourself, your family, the sick, the nation, etc. This would be like the Prayer of the Faithful at mass. Finish this section with the Lord's Prayer.
4. Conclusion
A. The Liturgy of the hours would have a prayer that is specific for the day. However, you can also create your own to fit your circumstances. One I use often is :
Almighty God I thank you for all your blessings, for faith, for life, and for hope. Bless and help my friends and family, my parish and people. Watch over us and guide us. Help us to know and to do your will. I ask you this Father, in union with the Holy Spirit, and in the name of Jesus, the Christ, Our Lord.
B. In the absence of a priest or deacon, while making the sign of the cross on yourself, conclude with:
 
May the Lord bless us,
protect us from all evil
and bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
 
Another Example of Morning Prayer

"As soon as you awake, make the sign of the cross, saying:

Glory be to the Father,

Who has created me.

Glory be to the Son, Who has redeemed me.

Glory be to the Holy Ghost, Who has sanctified me.

Blessed be the Holy and Undivided Trinity, now and for ever. Amen.

On rising from your bed, say:

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ, I arise. May He bless, preserve, and govern me, and bring me to everlasting life. Amen.

While you are dressing, occupy yourself with pious thoughts and meditations, on some point in the life or passion of your Savior, on God's mercies, on your own sins, on the temptations of the world, on the shortness of life, on eternity, etc.; or say some psalm or hymn.

As soon as you are dressed, prepare to say your morning prayers. Before you begin, recollect yourself and compose your mind. Think who you are and Whom you are about to address; and endeavor to clothe yourself with proper sentiments of humility, reverence, and awe.

Our devotions must consist of acts of adoration, praise and thanksgiving to God for his mercies, of confession of our sins, resolution of amendment, oblation [i.e. to make an offering] of ourselves to God's service, prayers for pardon and grace, and prayers in behalf of others, etc. All forms of prayer are composed, more or less, of these parts, though not always in the same order. Several of those forms which have been most approved are given here,in order to suit different minds, and to afford the advantage of occasional variety. A greater variety may be gained by adding at choice one or more of the "Occasional Prayers". Anon., The Key of Heaven, a Select Manual of Prayers for Daily use, Grainey Bros., Helena, Montana. Imprimatur John M. Farley, D.D. Archbishop of New York 1906.


See the Morning Prayers offered by Knowles from the Anglican tradition.

The Morning and Evening Sufferages from the Lutheran Church.


The text in quotation marks, other than The Key of Heaven, is from Lasance, My Prayer Book, Benziger Brothers, 1908. Imprimatur, John M. Farley, Archbishop of New York (1908).

"The Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyrighted 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the U.S.A., and are used by permission. All rights reserved."

The image used above is a detail from Girolamo Di Cremona's Pentecost. It here for educational and religious reasons only, to indicate that the Holy Spirit comes to us in prayer early in the day (Acts 2:16). No other use is intended or permitted.

See also: Value of Evening Prayer, Goffine's Prayers for Morning.
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