First Hour: “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”

Upon Rising: Praying the 5th Psalm of David


Members of The Myrrhbearing Lay Sisterhood of St. John the Beloved at Holy Annunciation Monastery aspire to keep Christ foremost in our minds throughout our daily tasks, just as the nuns do. However, we require quite a bit of accommodation since we do not live in a monastery but rather in a family.


In our hearts, we would love to pray the hours as they do, but we need a simplified version to pray at home so that our primary vocations as wives, mothers, and businesswomen will not suffer since we know that to forsake our work would never be pleasing to God. Our work IS our prayer, and we offer it as such. That said, we have a few things we do to help us stay in touch with the monastic world while we keep ourselves firmly planted in our own world. One way is by stopping for a brief moment at the times that each of the hours is prayed and contemplating the theme of that hour by reciting one psalm selected from the prayer of that hour. (We have added alarms on our cell phones to alert us of the hour and have added a small verse to be said in the comments section.) But if our duties are too great and we have little time that day, perhaps only a select verse from that psalm is said.


For example, upon rising for the day, for the first hour, we can say, “You will hear my voice in the morning, O Lord!” from psalm 5. This one phrase is enough to offer, although, at first consideration, it may seem small. Still, by uttering this one simple phrase, we lay sisters strive to call to mind the entirety of the psalm and all of the insights and implications generated by our souls when we’ve taken the time to pray it and study it in the past. These thoughts become the basis for contemplation as we prepare breakfasts, make beds, fold laundry and attend to other household tasks until the third hour rolls around! Let me show you what I mean. Here is Psalm 5, said during the First Hour, which is for us, upon rising in the morning :


Listen to my words, Lord consider my sighing.

Listen to the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,


For to You, I pray. In the morning, Lord, You will hear my voice;

In the morning, I will present my prayer to You and be on the watch.


For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil can dwell with You.

The boastful will not stand before Your eyes;


You hate all who do injustice. You destroy those who speak lies;

The Lord loathes the person of bloodshed and deceit.


But as for me, by Your abundant graciousness, I will enter Your house,

At Your holy temple, I will bow in reverence for You.


Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my enemies;

Make Your way straight before me.

For there is nothing trustworthy in their mouth;


Their inward part is destruction itself.

Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.


Make them pay, God;

Have them fall by their own schemes!

Scatter them in the multitude of their wrongdoings,

For they are rebellious against You.


But rejoice, all who take refuge in You,

Sing for joy forever!

And may You shelter them,

That those who love Your name may rejoice in You.


For You bless the righteous person, Lord,

You surround him with favor as with a shield.


 

In our studies as a group, we agree to set aside time to study these psalms and prayers so that we may contemplate them carefully and call upon the reserved information at a later time when we are pressed with the activities of our primary vocation. On a busy morning when our family or business duties keep us from doing so at the appointed time, we know that if we can only say that small verse, we can more easily call to mind everything we have learned from it at the earlier time. Each sister may have a different interpretation of each psalm or prayer, and may even differ in their understanding and application of it daily, and that’s how it’s supposed to be! God understands and hears our hearts. Here is how we can go about our study of Psalm 5. Let’s contemplate one stanza at a time:


Listen to my words, Lord Consider my sighing.

Listen to the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,

With this stanza, I begin the process of settling my mind and focusing on the fact that I am asking the Almighty God to focus His attention upon me. I do not intend to disappoint Him by rambling, daydreaming, or inattentiveness. Instead, I want God to see that I desire to bask in the warmth of His presence as in brilliant sunshine, especially since I desire His healing not only in my present difficulties, but on behalf of those of the whole world who are suffering and crying out for help for among them, “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


For to You, I pray. In the morning, Lord, You will hear my voice;

In the morning, I will present my prayer to You and be on the watch.

It is morning, and my soul has only just awakened from dreaming, and I face the reality of the day and all that it brings, not just for me but for the world. Many pray and wonder if God hears them. Many wonder if their cries will go unanswered. I know that God is not this way. I will await His guidance in complete confidence because I know He is just, kind, and merciful beyond human measure. Today, “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!” I will trust in Your love for us and be alert for the signs of Your love.


For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; No evil can dwell with You.

The boastful will not stand before Your eyes;

Wickedness surrounds us. I can think of many examples from the news, from among my family and friends who tell of wrongdoings and sufferings they face. This situation must displease God so very much. No evil can dwell with Him, so it must be dealt with here during our earthly life. But how can we do so? How should we do so? With humility, I ask God to show me the way this day to pray for my enemies, and as I do, “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


You hate all who do injustice. You destroy those who speak lies;

The Lord loathes the person of bloodshed and deceit.

Injustice, lies, bloodshed, and deceit in the larger world are often the order of the day, and no one seems to mind that God HATES those things. The world revolves around such things. God keep us from being influenced by those things! Keep us from participating in the evils of today through weakness or ignorance of the dangers before us! Hear me when I cry out for protection for“You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


But as for me, by Your abundant graciousness, I will enter Your house,

At Your holy temple, I will bow in reverence for You.

From the moment my feet touch the floor in the morning, I will place myself in spirit within Your house. I will constantly bow before your tabernacle in spirit, even if my body remains at home, performing my duties and as I work,“You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


Lord, lead me in Your righteousness because of my enemies;

Make Your way straight before me.

For there is nothing trustworthy in their mouth;

Enemies to my soul can come in all forms. Sometimes they are disguised and buried deep within those I love and serve. It can be confusing how I must answer when they attack me. Emotion clouds my judgment and dampens my resolve to serve you wholeheartedly in absolute truth. Keep me from this, Lord, and allow me to serve you well because “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


Their inward part is destruction itself.

Their throat is an open grave; They flatter with their tongue.

Enemies of You are everywhere in the world around us. Sometimes they are intentional enemies, especially within entertainment, politics, social groups, and media. They often portray themselves as good and helpful, but their goal is to destroy all that has to do with You by deceit. Preserve us from them because “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


Make them pay, God;

Have them fall by their own schemes!

Scatter them in the multitude of their wrongdoings,

For they are rebellious against You.

We know there is no worldly recourse for the average citizen, but that You are the only One Who can accomplish our salvation from their schemes. Deliver us today because “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


But rejoice, all who take refuge in You,

Sing for joy forever!

And may You shelter them,

That those who love Your name may rejoice in You.

For You bless the righteous person, Lord,

You surround him with favor as with a shield.

May I count on your shield today, Lord! Because “You Will Hear My Voice in the Morning, O Lord!”


Amen.



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