The Hour for Prayer
Updated: Jul 25, 2021
At sunrise I offer my prayer, and wait for your answer-Psalms 5:3
Every morning, my alarm is set to get me out of bed in time to step outdoors by 6 a.m., an hour that literally brings us “out of darkness, into His own marvelous light.” Ready for my usual morning walk, I step onto the terrace of my apartment block, feeling the silence, experiencing the mystery of the still dark sky, with its twinkling stars and the bright-faced moon.
The next few minutes are sheer magic! The sky lightens into a panoramic canvas of blue or grey and the sun streaks the Eastern sky in bold, fiery red hues. Unfazed by this flamboyant display, gentle clouds float lightly along like cotton balls, constantly changing size and shape. The stage is set for the dawn of another day and, in the next few moments, we witness the majestic ascent of the red crescent of the sun peeping over the distant skyscrapers in the horizon.
As I trace my usual path up and down the terrace, this daily son et lumiere fills me with a deep sense of tranquility. There could not be a more perfect hour to be in solitary communion with the Lord. The chores and responsibilities of the day seem far away and the Spirit of God fills the Earth as it slowly awakens to the gently blowing breeze and the songs of the birds. As we offer thanks and praise to the Lord, confess our most pressing problems, or pray for the needs of others, we can almost feel His tangible presence in the silence of the dawn. Sometimes the intensity of our prayers brings tears to our eyes; at other times we lift our hands singing praises in His name. The communication is deep and uninhibited, bringing us into His awesome presence, listening in silence for the sound of His voice.
From here, my walk continues with Mother Mary, whose rosary takes me through the most decisive moments of the life of Jesus. Every day of the week calls for a different destination. Mondays bring us to the circumstances of the birth of Jesus , while on Thursdays, we go from the wedding feast of Cana to the mystical moments of the transfiguration. On Friday, we trace the stages of the Passion and Death of Jesus, and on Sunday, we are witness to His glorious Resurrection and Ascension. Could there be a better way to start each day in our life?
Pope Francis has often recommended the practice of praying at dawn. He explains the importance of beginning the day in worship of the Lord stating that “….it possesses primacy: it is the first desire of the day, something that is practiced at dawn, before the world awakens. It restores a soul to that which otherwise would be without breath. A day lived without prayer risks being transformed into a bothersome or tedious experience:” The aspect of ‘primacy’ is very important. It indicates prioritizing the act of worship above all other acts of the day. My own reflections on this make me conclude that it is indelibly connected with the first commandment which categorically states –“You shall not have other Gods before me”. Extending the same line of thought, our worship of the Creator should come before every other task of the day. Nothing should be considered more important than that!
Added to this, the Pope also advocates the importance of solitary prayer, the time for silent reflection, for, as he says, “…in silence God speaks,” The Bible gives us many instances when our Lord Jesus spent time in solitary reflection and prayer. Just before choosing His disciples, He spent the whole night in prayer all alone on a mountainside- Luke 6:12. His public life was always crowded with people who thronged in His path to listen to Him. However, Luke’s gospel tells us that He often went away to lonely places to pray. It was His way of renewing His spiritual strength and expressing His oneness with the Father. The most poignant moment of solitary prayer was in the garden of Gethsemane, when Jesus knelt before His Father in Heaven. His mind was deeply troubled and His perspiration was mixed with blood as it fell to the ground—until the Father strengthened Him! As the entire episode of His passion and death played out, He remained strong and silent. His anguish and fear were replaced by an indomitable spiritual power.
The hour of dawn provides both primacy and privacy in prayer. As the sun climbs higher, it sends its first warm rays to earth, reminding me that my golden hour has come to an end. My strength renewed, I look forward to the gift of another wonderful day from the hands of the Lord.