Cyprian on Morning and Evening Prayers


In today’s reading of On the Lord’s Prayer, I encountered Cyprian’s reasoning for why we should engage in morning and evening prayers. Cyprian writes,

For we should pray in the morning in order that the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated in morning prayer.

Presumably, Cyprian is drawing from the Gospel accounts of the resurrection, wherein Mary Magdalene and the other Mary go to Christ’s tomb at dawn and find the tomb empty. Reinforcing the connection between morning prayers and the resurrection, Cyprian draws upon Ps 5:4 and Hos 6:1 writing:

This the Holy Spirit previously pointed out in the Psalms, when he said: “My king and my God! I will pray to you, O Lord, in the morning and you will hear my voice. In the morning I shall stand before you and I shall see you” (Ps 5:4). And again the Lord speaks through the prophet: “Early in the morning they will watch for me and say: ‘Let us go and return to the Lord our God’ ” (Hos. 6:1).

Having established a connection between Christ, his resurrection, morning prayers, and Old Testament texts that reinforce these connections, Cyprian moves to discuss evening prayers:

When the sun goes down and at the close of the day it is necessary for us to pray again. For, because Christ is the true sun and the true day, when we pray at the decline of the sun and the day of this present world, and ask that light may again come upon us, we are praying that the coming of Christ should reveal to us the grace of eternal light.

As before, Cyprian provides his readers with Old Testament support, which in this case demonstrates that Christ is called the “true day” and “true sun”

Morning and evening prayers, however, are not sufficient for the Christian. The Christian must constantly and continually be about the business of prayer. Therefore, Cyprian writes:

But if, in the holy Scriptures, Christ is the true sun and the true day, God should be worshipped constantly and continually. There is no hour at which Christians should not pray; rather, since we are in Christ, that is, in the true sun and the true day, we should spend the entire day in petition and prayer. And when, by the law of the world in its recurrent changes, night’s turn comes on, then, since to the children of light night itself is as day, we are not to cease from prayer in the darkness of the night. For when are we, who have the light in our hearts, without light? Or when is the one to whom Christ is the sun and the day without the sun and without the day?

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