In my pursuit of a 24/7 conversational relationship with God (described in “Drinking from a Fire Hydrant” and “And so my story begins . . . .”), the Holy Spirit enabled me (grace), as part of my daily fellowship with God, to enlarge my memorization of His Word and to take the time to meditate on those words more fully and intimately (a delightful blessing that would make a profound difference; a future post). A suggestion from Dallas Willard (another gift from God) caught the ear of my heart, and I have been able to incorporate two passages I learned in my youth into my daily “routine” – although the practice has never felt or seemed “routine.” Those two passages are “The Lord’s Prayer” and the 23rd Psalm.
As Dallas Willard suggested, I begin every morning by reciting and meditating on these words from God. Often I start thinking about them before I get out of bed (and if I wake up during the night, they are immediately in my thoughts). As I go through my morning routine of getting ready for the day, I trust the Holy Spirit to use these two passages to bring understanding and direction to my first thoughts of the day. It is not my intent to rehearse an exhaustive and perhaps exhausting recitation of my meditations, but here’s a taste of a few of those thoughts (with explanations):
From “The Lord’s Prayer” (as I memorized it as a child):
“Our Father which art in heaven” – (That Jesus would instruct His first disciples to address Yahweh as their “Father” was probably a shock to them.) You are my Father! And this day You will love me, hear me and respond to me like Your beloved child. “….how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:11, ESV).
“Hallowed be thy name” – (“Astonished awe” is a good description of what the word “hallowed” means.) May I be wonderfully in awe, even astonished, every time I think of You today.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” - (“Thy kingdom come” and “Thy will be done in earth” are basically two ways to say the same thing. God’s kingdom is essentially the effective range of His will. His kingdom is wherever His will is done.) Today, I want to be – I intend to be – an agent of the extension of Your will, the enlargement of Your kingdom (not mine) here on earth. That’s why I’m here. This is my purpose. And, just like Jesus, that requires me to do what I see You doing: loving people.
From Psalm 23:
“The Lord is my shepherd” – (Wow already!) The Lord – the creator of all things, the sustainer of all things, the glue that’s holding everything together, the One who paid with His life for my sins, the lover of my soul – You will be my shepherd today!
“Shepherd” – The Lord will be my shepherd! This day, You will be my guide, my protector, my provider, and my defender.
“I shall not want!” – (This is almost too much to wrap my mind around.) Because You are my shepherd, I will not want for anything today! Because You are my shepherd today, I will have everything. If I don’t want for anything, it’s because I have You! I’m discovering that when I trust You in everything, I don’t want for anything. In other words, I already have everything I want! (I remember the maxim that the “richest” man on the planet is not the man who has more stuff than anyone else, but the man who doesn’t want anything else. Contentment is indeed the greatest gain! [I Timothy 6].)
There is so much more!
Today, my Shepherd will lead me to places where I can be at peace and rest and drink in His goodness and mercy – with no anxiety or fear.
Today, He will repair my soul, renew my mind and make me more like Himself.
If I walk in the shadow of death today, He will walk through it with me.
If I’m in the presence of enemies today, He’ll throw a dinner party for me.
Surely – without a doubt – goodness and mercy will be my constant companions today!
This is how I begin everyday. It has become as much of my morning routine as getting out of bed and getting dressed – indeed, it helps me “clothe myself with the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 13:15, PAR). It not only puts my day and mind in the right frame – it makes me hungry for more fellowship with God. And that’s where the conversation begins.