The Psalms in Practice
by Brent Lewis
”Give ear to my words, O Jehovah . . . for unto thee do I pray. O Jehovah, in the morning shalt thou hear my voice; in the morning will I order my prayer unto thee, and will keep watch” (5:1-3).
THE WAY TO BEGIN THE DAY
At the beginning of every day the priests under the Mosaic law started anew the service of God in the temple. The altar was set in order, the lamb was made ready, and as soon as the new day dawned the
morning sacrifice was offered (Numbers 28:3-8). In this there was a lesson for all times—each new day calls for a fresh consecration of ourselves to God. David says that day by day he set about to deliver his petitions to the Lord, his God. As soon as the dawn broke, his first order of business was to offer up his prayers.
Prayer is in fact a sacrifice to God (Hebrews 13:15). And prayer today should have its seasons, though it does not have to be ”in the morning.” But our day should begin with God, “As for me, I will cal] upon God . . . evening, and morning, and at noonday, will I complain, and moan; and he will hear my voice” (Psalm 55:16-17). We sometimes sing the song that says: “Father, in the morning, unto thee I pray.” It is a noble sentiment-but it must be more than just sentiment. It must be our practice. Observe the emphasis of the Psalms upon the importance of prayer—especially the propriety of morning prayers.
Psalm 59:16: “But I will sing of thy strength; yea, I will sing aloud of thy lovingkindness in the morning: for thou hast been my high tower, and a refuge in the day of . my distress.”
Psalm 88:13: “But unto thee, O Jehovah, have I cried; and in the morning shall my prayer come before thee.”
Psalm 92:1-2: “It is a good thing to give thanks unto Jehovah, and to sing praises unto thy name, O Most High; to show forth thy lovingkindness in the morning, and thy faithfulness every night.”
Most of us probably are not as diligent in this matter as we should be. If not, we are missing both a duty and a blessing that God wants us to have. Think of it, now. If we, like David, consider prayer as the first work of our day—what benefits will we derive?
1. It will make us more conscious of God’s presence as we begin the day. We must never forget who we are and who our Father is. He is with us every moment of the day. It is all too easy to forget this. But when we do, we become careless and carnal in our activities. To begin the day with God underscores our exaltation of Him and tells Him that we really acknowledge His presence in our lives and that we urge His assistance for this day.
2. It will give us more strength to deal with problems. Let’s face it- our faith is challenged every day. The pressures and pleasures of the world assault us relentlessly. I cannot live the Christian life in my own strength, but I can with God’s help. “It is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). “I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13). Jesus says that we are to pray; “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matthew 6:13). How I need to pray this every day!
3. It will give us the cleansing of our sins. There is something indescribable about a fresh new clay. But how much better is one that is begun in double-freshness by prayer for forgiveness of sins? “Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow” (Psalm 51:7). “And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:17).
We live in a fast-paced society. We think were too busy to begin a day with prayer. In 1621, a Bishop Burnet wrote, “In the days of our fathers, when a person came early to the door of his neighbor, and desired to speak with the master of the house, it was as common a thing for the servants to tell him with freedom —’My master is at prayer,’ as it is now to say, ‘My master is not up.’ ” I’m afraid in our time, if he is up, he is likely watching the “Today” show. There is a better way to begin our day.
This article is taken from The Psalms in Practice (Vol.11, an adult Bible class study book to be published by the author in 1984.
CHRISTIANITY MAGAZINE FEBRUARY, 1984