In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation. — Psalm 5:3 (NIV)
My Bible study assignment was unique. I was to get up before dawn, take my Bible (and my cup of tea, of course), and sit in a chair outside facing the east. There I was to “lift up the day’s needs as the light begins to dawn and the sun rises,” then read assigned Scriptures (noted below in “Extra Tea”).
Because I live in the North (and the Bible study writer lives in Texas), spending time outside at that time of the day during this time of the year would not be good for these old bones.
So just before the sun came up over the wooded hillside behind my house, I parked myself in a rocking chair—inside—beside the dining room window facing west. While I didn’t see the sun actually rise, I watched its light, a sliver on the horizon at first, creep closer and closer to my house, blanketing field and forest, brightening up the dull pre-dawn landscape.
I read the assigned Scriptures. Nothing else. None of the four devotional readings that appear in my inbox every day. Not even the daily Bible study reading. Just the assigned Scriptures and Psalm 19 (a good psalm for this time of the morning).
As I lifted up the day’s needs—there were plenty, including a situation heavy on my heart—I pulled out an index card on which I’d written Philippians 4:6–7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
And then, between verses six and seven, a still, small voice interrupted: “What is your request?”
How many times had I read those verses and never stopped to voice my requests? How many times had I been hesitant to speak what was really on my heart? To lay it all out, warts and all. Too many times I prayed what I thought would be “the right prayer”—the Christian prayer, withholding what I was really feeling, what I really wanted.
“Stop trying to be so spiritual,” I heard the gentle voice chide. “Tell Me what you really want.”
Did I even know what I wanted anymore?
I’m still sorting through the fallout, seeking what it is that I truly want and the courage to voice it. To put into words the feelings and desires I’ve been stuffing into a corner of my heart and soul. A corner now so full, what it contains is beginning to leak out.
Why had I stuffed it? Because I was afraid my true feelings and desires were sin. So instead of confessing, talking it over with God, who knows me better than I know myself, I hid it away. (See Psalm 32)
What’s the result of honestly presenting our requests to God?
“The peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7).
I’d like to challenge each of you, dear readers, to do this: Get up before dawn, take your Bible and cup of tea or coffee to a place where you can see the sun rise, read His Word, then lift up the day’s needs to your Father in heaven.
He’s waiting. He’s listening.
Help me, Father, to always be honest with You. Only then can we work together to weed out what’s hurting me and replace it with Your peace. Amen.