The Morning Watches— John MacDuff, 1852
“In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3
“Abba, Father.” — Rom. 8:15
Most blessed God, I rejoice that I can look up to You, the mightiest of all beings, and call You by that name, which may well dispel all misgivings, and hush all disquietudes — “My Father who is in heaven.”
Father, I have sinned against heaven and in Your sight. The kindest of earthly parents could not so long have borne with ingratitude and waywardness like mine. Long before now You might righteously have driven me an exile and a castaway from Your presence. But the voice of parental mercy is not silenced. The hand of parental patience and love is “stretched out still.” In the midst of deserved wrath, this is Your own gracious declaration, “I will be a Father to you!”
I mourn my grievous departures — my repeated declensions — my heinous ingratitude. Oh, let me no longer live in this state of guilty estrangement — forfeiting all the joys of a Father’s tenderness, the sunshine of a Father’s smile. May I know what it is for the soul, orphaned, and portionless, and friendless by nature, to repose in the security of Your covenant-love. May I be enabled to enjoy more and more, every day, holy filial nearness to the mercy-seat — there unburdening into Your ear all my needs and trials — my sorrows and perplexities — my backslidings and sins. Give me grace to bow with childlike submission to a Father’s will — to bear without a murmur a Father’s rod — to hear in every dealing, joyous or sorrowful, a Father’s voice — and when death comes, to have every fear dispelled by listening to a Father’s summons — “Today you shall be with me in paradise.”
Jesus, blessed Elder Brother! “in whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,” may I be enabled to imitate Your example of holy resignation to Your Father’s will. May the cup of bitterest earthly sorrow be taken into my hands with Your own breathing of devout submission — “This cup which You give me to drink, shall I not drink it? Even so, Father, for so it seems good in Your sight.” It is my comfort, blessed Lord, to know, that while the best of earthly parents may err, You, the unerring God, never can. In Your most mysterious dealings there is wisdom. In Your roughest voice there is mercy.
Adorable Redeemer, all these filial blessings and adoption-privileges I owe to You. It is Your precious blood-shedding which has “set me among the children” — it is that which still keeps me there. Anew this day would I repair to Your cross — anew would I supplicate that the Holy Spirit, the Divine Comforter, would be sent forth into my heart, enabling me to cry, “Abba, Father.” May the thought of this blessed trust in You, support me amid life’s fitful changes and transient friendships, and may I be enabled to dwell with holy delight on that glorious time, when, no longer an exiled pilgrim in a strange land, I shall be received at the gates of glory with a Father’s welcome — “Son, you are ever with me, and all that I have is yours.”
I commend myself and all near and dear to me, this day, to Your fatherly care and keeping. And all I ask is for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
“Let the morning bring me word of Your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in You. Show me the way I should go, for to You I lift up my soul.” Psalm 143:8