Friday, February 5, 2016

Psalm 5 - Prayer Dawn

The Sovereign LORD has given me His words of wisdom, so that I know how to comfort the weary. Morning by morning He wakens me and opens my understanding to His will.
1Open Your ears to my words, O LORD. Consider my innermost thoughts.
2Pay attention to my cry for help, my King and my God, because I pray only to You.
3In the morning, O LORD, hear my voice. In the morning I lay my needs in front of You, and I wait.
4You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness. Evil will never be Your guest.
5Those who brag cannot stand in Your sight. You hate all troublemakers.
6You destroy those who tell lies. The LORD is disgusted with bloodthirsty and deceitful people.
7But I will enter your house because of Your great mercy. Out of reverence for You, I will bow toward Your holy temple.
8O LORD, lead me in Your righteousness because of those who spy on me. Make Your way in front of me smooth.
9Nothing in their mouths is truthful. Destruction comes from their hearts. Their throats are open graves. They flatter with their tongues.
10Condemn them, O God. Let their own schemes be their downfall. Throw them out for their many crimes because they have rebelled against You.
11But let all who take refuge in You rejoice. Let them sing with joy forever. Protect them, and let those who love Your name triumph in You.
12You bless righteous people, O LORD. Like a large shield, You surround them with Your favor.

In the article, “The Tyranny of the Urgent”, Charles Hummel writes that many people often wish for a 30-hour day, so they could get more done. But Hummel says if we had it, we would soon be filling it up with more of the things with which we are already squandering our present 24-hour day! 

His solution? Do what Jesus did, and get up and spend time with the Heavenly Father to begin the day. Get HIS direction and priorities for the day, and then follow that. But the whole plan hinges on getting up and spending time with God first thing in the morning.

In Psalm 5 - David is in a difficult spot. He is deeply troubled about something bad going on. There are no particular details but rather situational hints that proud, wicked people were slandering David. His response is to cry out to God.

David's emphasis is on the MORNING prayer: “In the morning … in the morning …”. One of the ways the Hebrews emphasize something is by repeating it. If they say it once, they mean it, of course, but if they say it twice, they really mean it (and if they say it three times it is ultimate, like “holy, holy, holy” is the Lord; which means that He is ultimate in holiness. 

The words "lay my needs"  are also very revealing. In Hebrew this is the same root word which describes how the priests “laid in order” the morning sacrifice, which was the very first act of the day in Israel. David is saying that just as the priests “laid” the morning sacrifice as their first duty of the day, His first duty of the was going to be to let God hear his voice in prayer.

He said the same thing in Psalm 63, “O God, You are my God. At dawn I search for You.” That makes sense. If I am searching for something, I look for it early. It's important to me. In Mark 1:35  Jesus kept this same pattern: “In the morning, long before sunrise, Jesus went to a place where He could be alone to pray..”

Jesus got up early — and “early” is qualified by “while it was still dark” and went out to a place where He could be alone. He did that, the Bible says, so that He could pray. Jesus serves as the great model.

He was far busier than I will ever be in my life.  The previous verses describe how just the night before, “the whole city had gathered at His door” and He was healing people. This went on until very late. And yet Jesus made it a priority to get up early and seek God and pray. I should do the same thing. I should say to the Lord, “At dawn I search for You.”

Morning prayer is assumed in the Lord's Prayer that Jesus gave in Matthew 6. What good would it do to pray, “Give us this day our daily bread” at the end of the day, AFTER I have  already HAD my daily bread. It makes much more sense as a morning prayer, asking God to provide what I need for the day ahead.

Most days when I get up, I am not in a particularly good mood. Like many, I am still tired, often weary...and have a lot on my mind. God tells me "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell [Me} what you need, and thank [Me] for all [I] have done. (Philippians 4:6). 

George Mueller, a Christian evangelist during the Great Awakening, knew the impact of prayer on his day. His biographer wrote that after learning the lesson of being too busy in the work of the Lord to pray, Mueller told his brethren that four hours of work after an hour of prayer would accomplish more than five hours of work without prayer. And that rule he faithfully kept! He always made sure to start his day with prayer, knowing how much it would impact what he was able to do that he. Like David, his motto was, “In the morning O Lord, You will hear my voice.”

Not to be overlooked, David’s commitment to prayer came out of his personal relationship with God. He wasn’t just praying to “any” lord or god. He was praying to God: Yahweh, the God whom Genesis says created the heavens and the earth; the God who told Moses His name, and brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt; the God whom David knew personally, whom he referred to when he said, “Yahweh is my Shepherd.” 

God promised a Messiah, and He came in the Person of Jesus Christ, who, when confronted by the Jewish religious leaders, said, “Before Abraham came into being, I AM!” JESUS is the “I AM”! He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through Me.” And when I follow Jesus as my Lord & Savior, I know that “I AM” God personally — and I want to talk with Him every day. 

In Tom Elliff’s book “Praying For Others”,  he describes his own commitment to pray. He said that in the early years of his pastorate, he saw his work as something like a “public relations” agent. But he became convicted that he needed to spend more time walking with God, and to give the first part of his day to prayer. He said that the very first day he made this commitment, he blocked off the first part of the day on his calendar, and he locked himself in his office, and knelt down to pray before God, and said:

“Lord, I’ve really wanted to have this time with you.” He said the Holy Spirit convicted to get real; that he DIDN’T really want this time. If he really had, he would have been doing it! Tom said the first thing he had to do in that prayer time was just confess his lack of love for God, and lack of desire to really pray.

And the truth is, that applies to me. I can pray and ask God to help me be disciplined, and to get up in the morning, and to use a good outline for prayer, and all those things. But really, I just need to get down on my knees like Tom Elliff did, and say, “Lord, forgive me for not having the love for You that I should have had. Forgive me for not wanting to pray. Give me such a love for You, that will drive me out of bed, to spend time with You, and walk with You every morning.”