Instruct Me, O Lord

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These verses from Psalm 119 serve as a great material for morning prayer. To start each day contemplating the law of God and its benefits is a great way to fill your mind, your heart, and your soul with the attitude of humility for the rest of the day. We have lived long enough to know that we will encounter many temptations to turn away from God’s law during the course of a day. As the old adage says, ʺKnowledge is power.ʺ To know the statutes of the Lord is the source of both our defense against those temptations and of our ultimate happiness. Listen!

ʺInstruct me, O Lord in the ways of your statutes,
That I may exactly observe them.ʺ

We know that our consciences are made to come to know the law of God, but we also know that our consciences must be formed in accord with that Law. Our conscience naturally desires the good that comes from the Law of God and we have the means to enhance that desire in the holy Scriptures and in the teachings of the Church. As Christians, we have a duty to read, to study and to practice the observance of the Law.

ʺGive me discernment, that I may observe your Law
And keep it with all my heart.ʺ

In the end, we desire to observe the Law because we love the One who is the Law. Because we love, we want to remain in the presence of the One we love with all of our heart.

ʺLead me in the path of your commands,
For in it I delight.ʺ

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The path of God’s Law is narrow and straight, it leads to the narrow gate. Jesus tells us, ʺEnter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.ʺ (Matthew 7: 13) The world offers us a broad road that is lined with countless attractions and distractions. And when we take that road we inevitably get lost.

ʺIncline my heart to your decrees
And not to gain.ʺ

ʺGain.ʺ Is one of the great ʺattractionsʺ the world that, like a Siren, calls to us sweetly. It is not just financial gain that we are attracted to either. We are also attracted to the gain of fame, and of power. These things make us ʺstand out from the crowd.ʺ They separate us from one another by contrast and comparison. They lead to competition and the seeking of gain at any cost. These are the paths of destruction that knowledge of God’s Law helps us to discern and to avoid.

ʺTurn away my eyes from seeing what is vain:
By your way give me life.ʺ

That is our morning prayer in a nutshell, isn’t it. Help me to turn my eyes away from all that is vain, by helping me keep my focus on You, O Lord. All vanity is empty and unsatisfying in the end. Your Law and Your love are what fill me up with joy and grace. It is this that we seek; a life full of grace in observance of Your Law. For:

ʺBehold, I long for Your precepts;
In your justice give me life.ʺ

It is not just life here on earth that we pray will be made full and just. It is ultimately eternal life in heaven that we pray for, when we will live in the Presence of God who is the Law of Love in its fullness, in all of its glory, forever and ever.

Good morning, Lord. Thank you for causing me to rise this day to learn even more how to walk in Your ways. Walk with me and be my guide. Protect me from the foe and defend me from those who would draw me away from you. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, the Lord. Amen!

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Dan Doyle is a husband, father, grandfather, Vietnam veteran, and retired professor of Humanities at Seattle University. He taught 13 years at the high school level and 22 years at the university level. He spends his time now babysitting his granddaughter. He is a poet and a blogger as well. Dan holds an AA degree in English Literature, a BA in Comparative Literature, and an MA in Theology, and writes regularly for The Veterans Site blog.