Lord, Open Our Lips - Morning Prayer
Each Wednesday in the season of Advent All Saints East Dallas gathers for Morning Prayer. Admittedly the name sounds a bit innocuous, but this corporate moment of prayer serves a few important functions in the life of the Church. First and foremost as prayer it places us, God’s people, in an act of self-giving at His feet, in His service, and at His mercy. You may recall the sisters Mary and Martha who were hosting Jesus. One sister busily prepared dinner while the other sat at Jesus’ feet. When the busy sister Martha got upset, he reminded her that Mary had chosen the better part by sitting at His feet, listening to His words, putting herself in His service.
Secondly, Morning Prayer has a way of setting apart the rest of the day as holy, or as given to God. True, every day is holy because it is the time and space of God’s mercy through which we walk with him, love him, and live for him. But Morning Prayer is a good first step to answering St. Paul’s famous dictum: “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17). By gathering reasonably early in the day, the Church can say, “we offer to you the first part of this day so that the whole day may be prayer to You.” It’s like our tithe. We give the first 10% of our income to God because we know all of it is His.
And lastly, Morning Prayer - and other moments of prayer like it - builds into our praying imaginations the vocabulary and rhythm of prayer. When we gather on a regular basis or pray by ourselves this common liturgy, we’re teaching our minds and hearts how to approach God, how to ask him for mercy when we just don’t have the strength or words, and how to begin in praise when we don’t feel like it. One of my favorite moments of Morning Prayer is just after the Confession and Absolution. It is a moment I don’t always feel but know that I want it to be so:
“Lord, open our lips. / And our mouth shall proclaim your praise” (BCP, 80).
May it be so.