Psalms 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.
It is evident from various Psalms that morning prayer was a regular practice of David. The Japanese translation implies that he made some sort of a morning sacrifice, where the NIV says, “I lay my requests before you.” However, in either language it is clear that David wasn’t just going through rituals, but was expecting a response from the Lord. That’s one of the most important differences between formal religion and a living faith. Liturgy has its good points, but it also carries a high risk of sterility, since it’s all too easy to go through the motions without really engaging your soul and your spirit. Morning devotions are extremely valuable, but only if they are done in faith and expectation. Actually, every time we read the Bible we should do so with the expectation of hearing from God. Even the most familiar passages can speak to us in fresh ways, if our hearts are open. It is absolutely true, however, that we won’t get anything if we don’t read. People who don’t have a regular habit of morning devotions tend to think of them as a duty, an obligation, and that makes it all the less likely that they will encounter God through them. However, if you go into it with a hunger for more of God, He will absolutely meet you there.
I honestly don’t remember when I established the solid habit of morning devotions. It’s been “lost in the mists of antiquity,” so to speak. I do remember trying to get started when I was in college, and making a total failure of it. Two things worked against me. The first was that my motive was theoretical, that it was “a good thing to do.” The second was more fundamental: I didn’t think I needed it, because I was already “a good Christian.” That attitude nearly sank me! I am in awe of how God protected and blessed me over the next several years in particular, because I certainly didn’t deserve it. In the period in question He gave me the wife that He had prepared for me from before either of us was born, and I couldn’t be more grateful. In spite of His grace I flirted with things that were potentially deadly, but He always kept me from going over the cliff. It was after I was a father that I had the experience I have written about many times, when He tapped me on the shoulder and, when I turned, He had a mirror to give me a glimpse of the blackness of my soul. I was completely undone. It was at some point after that, that I started reading the Bible every morning, seeking to hear what God wanted to say to me. My spiritual ears still aren’t as sharp as they could be, so my time every morning is “hearing exercises.” With age, my physical ears continue to get less sensitive, but thankfully, that doesn’t apply to spiritual ears! As a pastor I seek to encourage every believer to get into this habit of morning devotions, but with very mixed results. The biggest problem seems to be a lack of felt need. Frankly, they don’t know what they’re missing! Also, many seem to feel that “God would never speak to me.” They couldn’t be more wrong, but the devil has blinded them to their need and God’s grace.
Father, thank You for this continuing series You’re having me preach on prayer. I have no idea how long it will continue! I pray that Your Spirit would take my words and use them to generate hunger in my hearers for fellowship with You. May they dare to believe that You desire it more than they do, despite all their imperfections. May we all become true disciples in response to Your overwhelming grace and love, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!