This past Sunday in a sermon at Calvary, I described what a praying life could look like through the lens of a definition from David Powlison:
“Prayer is meant to be the conversation where your life and your God meet.”
This one sentence has profound implications for the disciple of Jesus Christ. If you’d like to hear how I tried to apply it, you can watch or listen to the sermon at Calvary's sermon page. What I’d like to do here is expand on one of the illustrations I used to attempt to drive the point home. The illustration was comparing my relationship with my wife through our regular interactions to our relationship with God through regular interactions.
For example, I get to know my wife better through our conversations as we spend time with family, go shopping, have friends and neighbors for dinner parties, or embark on our weekly date night. The variety of these times together, and the conversations that attend them, are part of our healthy relationship. And so it is with God. Powlison is instructing us to bring God into the picture of all the nooks and crannies of our lives through the medium of conversation.
So, what I’d like to do now is expand on what ‘date night’ with God could look like if we had a daily morning ‘date’ with him. And by that, I mean I’d like to provide some very helpful suggestions from Paul Miller on scheduling and preparing for a daily morning routine with our Father.
Get to bed. What you do in the evening will shape your morning. The Hebrew notion of a day as the evening and morning (see Genesis 1) helps you plan for prayer. If you want to pray in the morning, then plan your evening so you don’t stay up too late. The evening and the morning are connected.
Get up. Praying in bed is wonderful. In fact, the more you pray out of bed, the more you’ll pray in bed. But you’ll never develop a morning prayer time in bed. Some of my richest prayer times are at night. I’ll wake up praying. But those prayer times only began to emerge because I got out of bed to pray.
Get awake. Maybe you need to make a pot of coffee [or tea] first or take a shower.
Get a quiet place. Maybe a room, a chair, or a place with a view. Or maybe you do better going for a walk. Make sure that no one can interrupt you.
Get comfortable. Don’t feel like you have to pray on your knees [though that may help]. For years I was hindered from praying because I found it so uncomfortable to pray on my knees.
Get going. Start with just five minutes. Start with a small goal that you can attain rather than something heroic. You’ll quickly find that the time will fly.
Keep going. Consistency is more important than length. If you pray five minutes every day, then the length of time will slowly grow. You’ll look up and discover that twenty minutes have gone by. You’ll enjoy being with God. Jesus is so concerned about hanging in there with prayer that he tells “his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Luke 18:1).
(from A Praying Life, by Paul Miller, pages 50-51)
I hope these are an encouragement to you, dear friend. I believe that as you give God space alone with him, and in every other moment of your day, he will increase your sense of his presence, help, and love.
Psalm 5:3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
Psalm 59:16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.
Psalm 88:13 But I, O Lord, cry to you;
in the morning my prayer comes before you.
Psalm 143:8 Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning,
for I am trusting you.
Show me where to walk,
for I give myself to you.
If you’ve been reading along in this little series—congratulations! You’ve made it to the end of the first week. As a reward to both of us, you the reader, and myself as the writer, I’ve decided to make Sundays a “Grace Day.”
Day Five: Be Attentive To Wisdom
While it is hard to nail down a precise figure (I looked at a number of studies), one large study pulling together a number of other studies reports: “To conclude, a close analysis of [the] Infidelity rate and its growth pattern clearly indicates that nearly one half of all married men and women are involved in extramarital affairs.”
Day Four: Orienteering
Many who know me are quite aware that I am indoorsy. It’s not that I don’t enjoy going for a run, a bike ride, or even a hike through the woods or in the mountains. It’s just that I don’t want to sleep out there. I believe God inspired us to create hotels and houses for a very good reason: to return to, enjoy, and sleep in. It’s a very important part of what separates us from the animals.
Day Three: A Heart of Wisdom
When we baptize someone at our church, we always remind our people that baptism is an outward sign of an inward reality. This picture of being lowered fully into the water and rising up again that happens on the outside for all to see, is a window into the soul of the baptized, revealing a heart cleansed, purified, and surrendered to Jesus, and thus saved, transformed, and made a part of the family.
Day Two: Our God Will Supply
It’s important we pause for a moment and look at the simple structure of Solomon’s book of Proverbs. The first nine chapters are extended descriptions of wisdom, largely in story form with instructions from a parent to a child, using at times images of “Lady Wisdom” and “Woman Folly.” They are there to explain two pathways, one that leads to a wise and good life, and one that leads to destruction. And these first nine chapters are there to help us see why we should care about chapters ten through thirty-one, which contain all the individual sayings of wisdom for which the book is famous.
Day One: The Fear of Yahweh
The fear of Yahweh is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7, English Standard Version) I argued in yesterday’s post how God has hardwired wisdom into all of creation, and that wisdom is an applied skill in working with the grain of his design, and not against it, so that we may have a good life. An immediate question arises: if this is true, wouldn’t that mean a good life is available to all who recognize and pursue this, whether or not they believe in God?
Yesterday I preached the twenty-sixth sermon in The Whole Story sermon series, on the book of Proverbs. One of the main points of the sermon—because it is one of the main points of the book of Proverbs—is how wisdom is this thing that helps you see the way the world truly is, the way it works, so that you can live well inside of it. This is because wisdom is expertise and competence, it is applied skill, seen in the ways the Bible uses the word for craftsmen (Exodus 35:31), goldsmiths (Jeremiah 10:9), and sailors (Psalm 107:27).
This last Sunday, we made our way back into our Whole Story sermon series after a powerful four weeks taking a look at how we can help people ‘move to the right’, out of and away from the kingdom of darkness, and into the kingdom of the beloved Son. The sermon also served the purpose of kicking off our entry into the Wisdom literature of the Old Testament, with the story of Job as our first step in that journey.