June 10 2018: Setting Aside Time

Reflection on Psalm 55*

Regularity, setting specific time apart for prayer—and keeping to them in a disciplined way—is something the Bible encourages. We all find the story of Daniel’s practice in prayer moving to read (Daniel 6:10). How, in spite of the king’s foolish, self-glorifying edict, he went to his upper room, with its windows towards Jerusalem, and knelt down three times a day. We sense not only the old man’s yearning heart for the city of God, but his confidence in prayer and his commitment. I wonder if Daniel had caught the vision of the threefold discipline from Psalm 55:17, “evening and morning and noonday”? How to end one day and begin another; how to stop in the middle of a busy life and turn to God.

Isaiah made a forecast that the Servant of the LORD—the Lord Jesus—would practice the discipline of what some have called “the morning watch” (cf. Isaiah 50:4 “Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught”). March 1:35 records an occasion when he did just that: “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place and there he prayed.” In Acts 3:1 we find Peter and John keeping the statutory hour of prayer, the ninth hour (that is, 3PM), and the devout Cornelius testifies to the same prayer discipline (cf. Acts 10:30).

Should we be “evening, morning and noon” people? The answer is “Why not?” Two truths are important before we make excuses about the busyness of life today. First, prayer is a simple thing, not necessarily prolonged: “When you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:7-8). Second, none of the passages referred to above says anything about the time when we pray or for what length of time. As soon as we think of starting the day with God, our minds begin thinking about super early morning (four or five a.m. or some other unearthly hour—because we read or heard somewhere that some great prayer-warrior was always up and about by then! 

“Setting aside time” means just that—doing what is possible for us within our God-given day and our God-given abilities. It will look different for people in different life-stages. For instance, for some it will be possible to go to sleep early and wake up early. For you, you should go to sleep early and carve our the early morning to spend at least 20-30 minutes in meditating the Psalms and to pray. For some, it may be impossible to have a decent sleep, because you have a new born who needs your attention throughout the night. For such new parents the “setting aside time” may look different. But we all need to carve out time to read a verse of the Bible, and time to call upon God.

One final thought: Psalm 55 begins with prayer, “Give ear to my prayer, O God!” (v.1) and ends with trust, “I will trust in you” (v. 23). If we say we are those who trust and believe, those who are saved by faith, then a primary way this shows itself is to balance life’s demands with life’s prayers. 

* Adapted from Alec Motyer’s Psalms by the Day.

This Week’s Bible Reading Schedule:

 Monday: Psalm 58 Thursday: Psalm 61
 Tuesday: Psalm 59 Friday: Psalm 62
 Wednesday: Psalm 60 Saturday: Psalm 63

Bible Column & Reading Plan by Rev. Chang Soo Lee
Mississauga Camps Lead Pastor