What is a morning prayer? What is an evening prayer?
Many Christians pray when they wake up in the morning. Many people pray at the end of the day before they go to bed. For as long as the sun has risen in the east and set in the west, people have been praying in the morning and at night. The more formal idea of morning and evening prayer is not an idea found in the Bible, rather it has been developed by the church and her congregations throughout the years.
Churches, of many different denominations, maintain the practice of daily gatherings for corporate worship and prayer. Those scheduled for the mornings regularly focus on the praise of God (who He is) and those scheduled for the evenings regularly focus on thanksgiving to God (what He does). The tradition of morning and evening prayers is most commonly embraced by Roman Catholic, Anglican, Episcopal, Presbyterian, and Methodist churches. This is to say that certain local churches founded on these traditions may be likely to choose to organize morning and/or evening prayer gatherings one or more times per week.
These gatherings are times marked by liturgy, a form of public religious worship often highlighted by formal structure and predetermined order of worship, responsive readings, reading of Psalms, corporate singing, and the reciting of memorized prayers. The idea of liturgy is most often associated with a designation of how a church chooses to organize its services, with churches being more historically minded and ordered as being “liturgical” and churches being more modern and casual as being “non-liturgical.” It is important to note that this is a matter of preference and style and not a determination of a right way and a wrong way to conduct corporate church services.
Liturgy can be helpful as it intends to uphold Scripture and worship and prayer, and many believers find that a routine of scheduled prayer aids their faith in Christ. But a liturgy lived out of duty and obligation, and practiced blindly and without meaning, is no replacement for a life-giving personal relationship with Jesus. When it comes to prayer, God enjoys our thanksgiving to Him (1 Chronicles 16:34), our praise of Him (1 Chronicles 16:28), our confession of our sins (1 John 1:9), and requests of Him (Philippians 4:6). God is delighted by our company and invites us to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). He enjoys when we talk to Him all day long and not limit our awareness of Him to once or twice a day.
The idea of gathering multiple times a day with other people for prayer and worship is not new. The Bible records Jews as being devout in their prayers, often praying at regular times throughout the day (Psalm 5:3; 55:17; 119:62, 147; Daniel 6). In the New Testament, the early church was meeting regularly, “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved” (Acts 2:46-47), and Paul encouraged the churches to, “devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13).
These passages can be a model for our corporate worship. From the Psalms we learn that morning, noon, and night we can acknowledge God’s presence and authority, know that God hears our cries and complaints, praise God, and cry for help. From Acts and 1 Timothy we learn that it is good to meet together in public and in private, to share life together, to express thanksgiving to God, to praise God, to invite others to join us, and to read and teach the Bible.
Morning and evening prayers can be helpful and meaningful. They provide a mindset and a posture to begin (praise) and end (thanksgiving) the day. When organized by the local church, they gather people together for encouragement, comfort, and sometimes teaching from God's Word. Still, God’s relationship with us has no restrictions on when we can or should pray. God invites us to come to Him: “You have said, ’Seek my face.’ My heart says to you, ‘Your face, LORD, do I seek’” (Psalm 27:8). God simply says come to Him, He does not set restrictions on when we do so. Though, we should consider that now is better than later, though later is never too late.
Morning and evening prayers can encourage us to be with God and teach us how to do so. The beauty of prayer is that God delights in our personal conversations with Him because He cares for us. Prayer is communication with God, and in Jesus Christ, His door is always open (Hebrews 4:14–16; 10:19–25).
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