Christianity 201

December 4, 2012

Devotions for Morning and Evening

O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water. — Ps. 63: 1 NKJV


I must secure more time for private devotions. I have been living far too public for me. The shortening of devotions starves the soul, it grows lean and faint. I have been keeping too late hours. — William Wilberforce


At the summer camp where my wife and I met, we learned a song based on Psalm 63, Early Will I Seek Thee.

I’m not a morning person, so the concept of ‘morning devotions’ isn’t part of my heritage. When I have a Christian book I’m working on, I can get up early and start the day with it, but most of my serious reading for the past 20 years has come as part of the evening devotional time I’ve spent with my kids, who are both now college age.

Maybe that’s why this blog publishes here in North America between 5:00 and 6:00 PM most days. It’s my hat-tip to afternoon devotional readers.

However, it’s worth noting that only the KJV and NKJV use the term ‘early.’ Now before you worry, there is indeed a lot of scriptural precedent for beginning the day with a sense of God’s presence, with Scripture meditation, and with a word of prayer. But the other translations — including the very ‘literal’ NASB — felt the intent of the Hebrew in Ps. 63 was better expressed in terms of ‘earnestness.’

It is our earnestness God desires more than anything.

O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water. – Ps. 63: 1 NLT

Here’s how The Message translates the entire Psalm:

  God—you’re my God!
    I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
    traveling across dry and weary deserts.

2-4 So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open,
    drinking in your strength and glory.
In your generous love I am really living at last!
    My lips brim praises like fountains.
I bless you every time I take a breath;
    My arms wave like banners of praise to you.

5-8 I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy;
    I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises!
If I’m sleepless at midnight,
    I spend the hours in grateful reflection.
Because you’ve always stood up for me,
    I’m free to run and play.
I hold on to you for dear life,
    and you hold me steady as a post.

9-11 Those who are out to get me are marked for doom,
    marked for death, bound for hell.
They’ll die violent deaths;
    jackals will tear them limb from limb.
But the king is glad in God;
    his true friends spread the joy,
While small-minded gossips
    are gagged for good.

Those with an aversion to morning devotions might also check out Isaiah 26:9

My soul yearns for you in the night; my spirit within me earnestly seeks you. For when your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.  – ESV

Surprisingly in this verse however, several translations incorporate both morning and evening references, including, interestingly enough, this one:

All night long I search for you; in the morning I earnestly seek for God. For only when you come to judge the earth will people learn what is right. – NLT (emphasis added)

Before you take sides on this one, here are some other verses to remember:

Psalm 86:3 — Have mercy on me, O Lord, for I call to you all day long.

Psalm 71:24 — My tongue will tell of your righteous acts all day long, for those who wanted to harm me have been put to shame and confusion.

Psalm 71:8 — My mouth is filled with your praise, declaring your splendor all day long.    (all NIV)

And finally, from our out-of-context department, this line from Psalm 127:2

It is vain for you to rise up early.

Notice I didn’t highlight that one in green; scripture, when taken totally out of context doesn’t really count, does it?

…But it was my favorite verse for many years.

Questions:

Do you find that God meets you in different ways at different times of the day?

Even though there is obviously a morning/evening balance in scripture, many of our classic hymns have emphasized morning. “Early in the morning, our song shall rise to thee…” “Morning by morning new mercies I see…” “When morning guilds the skies, my heart awakening cries.”  Do you think that the Bible seems to favor morning time with God over evening time with Him?

(This might be a good point to end with a return visit to this song.)

1 Comment »

  1. I suppose I have always been somewhat of a morning person, but it has grown with age and I DELIGHT to jump out of bed in the mornings.

    Q. Do you think that the Bible seems to favor morning time with God over evening time with Him?

    I think the Bible favours an ‘all-the-time’ with God, but I certainly believe a special time in special communion with Him before we start the day is very PRACTICAL and helps to set the tone for the whole day. My first waking thought is usually a good morning to the Lord, thanking Him for another day, committing it to Him and wondering what He is going to do in me and through me that day. After ‘necessities’ have been attended to, I find a ‘quiet time’ with Him to be an essential before starting the activities of the day. I want to receive His Word. I want to place myself in His hands, ready to do whatever He desires that day. I have found that when I miss that special time, things usually do not go very smoothly and He gently reminds me.

    Q. Do you find that God meets you in different ways at different times of the day?

    No – but I do find that He meets me in different ways according to my need. Sometimes He gently reminds me; sometimes He rebukes me; sometimes He motivates me, encourages me, strengthens me, challenges me, enables me . . . but ALWAYS He works for my good.

    What an amazing God!

    Comment by meetingintheclouds — December 7, 2012 @ 4:21 pm | Reply


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