The reason why I suggested “My Maker and My King” for opening hymn is because the words are so deeply meaningful when it comes to worship, whither it be private or public. It prepares the heart for the opening prayer simply by the sentiments expressed in the words. Furthermore, it sets the stage for obeying the first commandment in acknowledging that there ought not to be any other gods before my Creator. It shows respect for the supremacy of God. However, this recommendation is not of itself set in stone. Any hymn, which accomplishes the same purpose, would be a marvelous choice.
One other suggestion: keep using the same hymn until it is memorized. Store it away for the coming famine. For just as there will be a famine of God’s Word in the land, so will there be a famine of hymns. See Amos 8:11, 12.
When you first start to pray, you may not feel like it. You may be tired because of a variety of reasons. But the goal of opening prayer is to establish your great need for God, and your even greater need to be converted so that you may reflect upon His character revealed in Scripture and then reflect His character to the world you meet after devotion is over. After all, God wants you to be perfect in your sphere of influence even as He is perfect in His infinite sphere of influence.
Regarding the ratio of praying to singing, Ellen White provides this counsel: “Begin to pray for souls; come near to Christ, close to His bleeding side. Let a meek and quiet spirit adorn your lives, and let your earnest, broken, humble petitions ascend to Him for wisdom that you may have success in saving not only your own soul, but the souls of others. Pray more than you sing. Do you not stand in greater need of prayer than of singing?” (Vol. 5, Testimonies, 513.)
Keep in mind these principles found in Scripture as you pray: “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.” KJV, Psalm 5:3-8, emphasis supplied.
Here, the Psalmist gives us a picture of how we are to approach God in our devotional worship:
- Determine to get out of bed and direct your prayer to God, looking to Him to supply your need.
- Recognize God’s holiness and His infinitely high standard of righteousness.
- Recognize that only through Christ’s act of unselfishness which averts the sword of justice aimed at us for our wickedness, we can come into God’s presence and claim His mercy.
- When we truly fear God in pure love and reverence for the law that governs His kingdom, then we can worship Him in spirit and in truth. And lastly,
- Unconditionally surrender to His leading. He desires to teach you of His righteousness so that, in keeping His commandments by faith motivated by love, He can then defend you from Satan’s attacks as you study His Word.