The Morning Watch: The Discipline of Prayer (part 2)

"Give ear to my words, O Lord; consider my groaning. Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you do I pray. O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch."--Psalm 5:1-3 Daylight savings totally throws me off, particularly in the spring. I have a really hard time getting up in the morning. When my mornings are off, I usually am "off" as well Unfortunately, I have not been getting up in time to do my physical workout, and my spiritual workout, namely my prayer time, has been lacking as well. Yesterday, I felt very tense and stressed because I barely got time to read my Bible and it was a rushed job at that.

Not that my quiet time in the mornings is any magic ritual that makes the day go better. Far from it. Whether I have a good day or not really depends on my choices from moment to moment, whether I decide to walk with Jesus or not. However, having time to refresh and recharge my spirit, to rest in Him before I start the day, usually tempers what happens. Carving time to be in the Word and bringing my day before Him in prayer usually steers me toward the right direction. Because I have spent time with Him, I am generally more inclined to walk with Him.

For me, that is why I like to start my day with my quiet time. However, I also believe there can be a case for ending the day with your quiet time, if you are more of a night owl. In fact, Jewish thinking would support you as they looked at the start of the day as the evening. If you do your best thinking at night, then go for it! I believe that morning or evening has its pros and cons. Choose what will allow you to give God your very best.

Yesterday, I started a discussion on prayer, about some of the false beliefs we may have about prayer. As I have mentioned in an earlier post in this series, I am writing this for myself as well. I have always been frustrated with this one particular area of my journey with God, and I needed to not just grit my teeth and force myself to pray more, but take some time to think about why I don't engage in this great privilege I have. That was yesterday.

But somewhere down the line, even though I know that, I will need to actually start doing it. Because prayer is not natural for me, I need some training. And sometimes, the best way to train ourselves is to set aside time to pray every day.

In Psalm 5 (quoted above), David talks about praying in the morning, but if we read David's psalms, it seems that he prayed all the time, morning, noon, and sometimes all through the night. We read in Daniel 6 that Daniel prayed three times a day (v. 10), even though it got him thrown into the lion's den.

For me, like I mentioned above, I do better in the mornings, so I have tried to set aside time to pray every morning. I usually spend it praying over the day and praying for my husband and children. For me, this is the first step towards increasing my awareness and need for God in all the important aspects of my day and in the key relationships in my life.

I know that if I do not set aside this concentrated time, I most likely will get caught up in the day (you probably know what I mean!) and then end up running on my own steam, trying to live life on my own. Unless I carve some space in my devotional routine to pray, I will usually skip it.

If I want to grow in my faith that prayer does really make a difference, then I need to pray, not just philosophize about it. Just do it! There are many other types of prayer, ones that I will discuss further in today's journal, besides supplication (a fancy word for praying on behalf of another). The point is, as I start making prayer a bigger part of my rhythm and way of life, I am trusting that God will help me to move to the next level of prayer, a life of continuous prayer, as Paul exhorts in 1 Thess. 5:17. I'll be looking at that tomorrow.

Ultimately, prayer is about communication and communion. It is not meant to be a ritual list or practice. So even though I am talking today about carving out concentrated time in our routines to pray, it is not meant to be another item to check off on the list. The end goal of this discipline, as with any of the disciplines we have talked about, is to draw closer to the Lord so that there no longer is any dividing line between our life with Him and the life we live day by day. For me, that is always the ultimate goal.

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