O Lord, open our lips
How do you start your day? My guess is that we all have various morning routines, many elements of which are the same. Get up, have a shower, drink coffee, eat breakfast, clean your teeth. It can be helpful to have a pattern and structure to your morning. It allows you to get moving on autopilot before your brain really kicks into gear (mine needs that first cup of coffee to do so!). Also, a morning routine sets the focus and direction for the day. How you start your day often dictates how you will continue during that day, and even how you will finish the day.
Many of us won’t use the Anglican structure of Morning Prayer to kick off our day. But there are a lot worse ways to begin your morning. In particular, the Morning Prayer for Sunday starts the day with a very important line:
O Lord, open our lips
and our mouth shall proclaim your praise.
Those words are taken from David’s words in Psalm 51. There he speaks for himself (“Lord, open my lips”) whereas the Anglican prayer changes it to a prayer together. As a whole church, Lord, open our lips.
If we ask God to open our lips, what will come out of them? The answer is that we pray for God to open our lips so our mouths will proclaim his praise. This past Sunday, as a church we looked at 1 Peter 2, where Peter says that our mission as God’s people is to:
“…declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”1 Peter 2:9
Lord, open our lips, so that our lips might declare your praise, you who have moved us from darkness to light, from rebellion to mercy, from enemies to family.
Those words make me stop and think. If God opens my lips each morning, what does actually come out of them most of the time? The answer is often not praise of the God who allows me to speak. Instead my lips pour forth a whole load of other things: grumbling and moaning; criticism; harsh words; angry accusations; sly comments. Not the praises of God at all. If my prayer is ‘Lord, open my lips’, I wonder if he would be pleased with the result of his answered prayer?
David’s words in Psalm 51 come after words of confession. He begins the psalm by acknowledging his sin, recognising he has done wrong, and coming to God for mercy. When he finds God’s grace and forgiveness, it changes the way he thinks and the way he speaks. The reason he can speak praise when God opens his lips each morning is because he has known and understood God’s goodness.
As human beings, we are made for the praise of God. We are designed to glorify God and enjoy him forever. That encompasses every aspect of our lives and bodies, including our lips. My prayer for myself is that each morning I would know and remember God’s amazing goodness and mercy to me. Like David I would be overcome and overwhelmed by God’s grace. And that as God gives me the ability to open my lips each day, so also he will give me the ability to speak his praise. Perhaps the best way to begin the day is to say with David:
O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.