The Word Among Us

Prayer Resources

Praying the Canticle of Zechariah

Praying the Canticle of Zechariah

"Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel." (Luke 1:68)

Each day in Morning Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours the Church invites us to pray with Zechariah, father of St. John the Baptist, whose nativity is celebrated on June 24.

Remember, this man spent nine months in silence because he didn’t believe the angel’s message to him. Now the promise is fulfilled in the birth of Zechariah’s son, John. When Zechariah, in writing, insisted on the name the angel provided, his tongue is loosened, and he immediately launches into this beautiful canticle of praise. Out of his silence comes profound worship.

It may be hard to wrest a moment of silence out of this busy day, but you will be richly rewarded for the effort. Linger quietly with this canticle, and let the Holy Spirit bring to light just one phrase in it. Make a quiet space, and let worship well up within you.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, for he has visited and brought redemption to his people. (Luke 1:68) Perhaps you will reflect on what God has done for his people over the course of history, starting with Abraham and running through the stories of David and Solomon, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, the Maccabees and John the Baptist.

Even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. (Luke 1:70) Perhaps you can focus on the promises God has made and then kept in your life. He may have promised never to leave you or forsake you. He may have promised strength for a particularly difficult journey.

Salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us. (Luke 1:71) Maybe you will recall the way he has delivered you from enemies like fear, loneliness, jealousy, or the guilt of unforgiven sin. Perhaps it is his “tender mercy” that speaks to you today, or his “daybreak” as it lights up an area of darkness in your life (1:78).

Whatever reverberates with your spirit, treasure it and carry it with you today.

“Blessed are you, Lord God of Israel, for you have come to set us free!”