From the rising of the sun to its setting, the name of the Lord is to be praised! – Psalm 113:3
These words of scripture sure sound nice. But when we think about them in the midst of the ebbs and flows of life they become something of a distant hope or an unrealistic ideal. Each and every day seems to greet us with a new challenge, another headache, or more grief with which to wrestle. We may very well start out with the intention to praise the Lord in our words and our works but oh how quickly the flame of that desire can be snuffed out. Even in the scripture people’s days can be marked with hardship and calamity. Moses’ day, and even life, was interrupted when he had to flee into the wilderness. Paul found himself in prison at night. Mary went with grief early in the morning to the tomb. Sadly all of this is true, proven time and again by experience.
Yet the story that the Bible tells doesn’t just end with the possibility that all of our days may be meet with trouble. The Bible goes to great lengths to tell us, not only that great things happened, but when those great things happened. Late at night the savior of the whole world was born in a stable. Mary’s grief filled early morning was greeted with joy at the resurrection of Jesus. At the morning hour the Holy Spirit was sent upon the apostles. At noontime Jesus was nailed to the cross for our sins. During the day time Jesus taught, and healed, and called people to follow. At three in the afternoon Jesus died for our salvation. In the late afternoon, as Jesus’ parable instructs, workers were still to be called out into the vineyard. At dinnertime Jesus instituted the Holy Meal of Communion for his disciples’ nourishment. And late at night Jesus prayed for strength during his passion and gave to the apostles the authority to forgive sins.
What does this tell us? This tells us that each and every day, that each and every moment, is filled with possibility. Filled with the possibility that God’s grace will greet us anew, that his love will be felt again, that his mercies will pour over us like the refreshing rains of spring. While each moment of every day might very well bring new troubles; each moment also brings with it the time for the Lord to act for us. Lamentations, a book filled with troubles, declares this to be true: “his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Indeed, God’s mercies never do come to an end and they are new not only every morning but each and every moment!
Many religions have traditional prayer hours. Times when all believers are to stop and pray. While the Christian tradition has encouraged disciples to stop for prayer at morning, evening, and night there is nothing hard and fast about this guidance. Instead, scripture teaches us to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Each moment of every day is filled with the possibility that God grace, love, and mercy will happen to us in new and surprising ways. Each moment then is a moment of hopeful expectation. What if we were a people of expectation? What if we were a people who looked at each new day as a time when God would act for us? What if we looked at the sunrise as a reminder that God raises us to new life; or the sunset as a call to die to our sinful ways; or each day as a chance to live not in darkness but bathed in the glorious Son-light of grace…what if? It would seem this is what it means to be people who pray without ceasing and to be people who praise from sun up to sun down. The only question then to ask is: what will God do for us in this time?