sunrise behind pine trees

Last summer I was gifted a new Bible, the Passion Translation. Looking more closely into this version, I think of it as more a paraphrase than an actual translation.

I don’t use this version for anything but my own personal pleasure. It is only the New Testament, Psalms, Proverbs and Song of Songs. It has given me a fresh perspective on many overly familiar verses.

One set of verses that has particularly touched me is Psalm 5: 3. The NLT reads: Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.

The Passion Translation reads

” At each and every sunrise, you will hear my voice as I prepare my sacrifice of prayer to you. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.”

Psalm 5:3
sunrise behind pine trees

I have always loved my mornings alone with God. When my children were small and my husband went to work very early in the morning, that hour between when he left for work and the children started to stir was the only real quiet time of my day.

The Beginnings of a Life Long Habit

Giving the first fruits of my day to the Lord in prayer, praise, Bible study and meditation became a life long habit. I have stacks and stacks of journals, recording all the ways God has spoken to my heart in those predawn hours.

morning coffee with book

This rephrasing of Psalm 5:3 reminds me of the amazement I feel that the very moment I speak, I know He is listening. It reminds me of sitting on my couch with my coffee, my favorite blanket, my Bible open with my journal in my lap. With pen in hand, I record my concerns and my praises; the lessons learned and private battles fought, won and lost. God’s answers. Always, the wonderful ways God answered.

“I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart”

Psalm 5:3b

I am reminded, too, of a story in Genesis 15: 7-11. This is the Kathie paraphrase. God reminded Abraham, “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as your possession.” But Abraham asked how he could be sure he would actually possess that promised land?

God asked for a sacrifice before He could answer the prayer.

God told Abraham to lay out a sacrifice of a three year old heifer, a three year old female goat, a three year old ram, a turtle dove and a young pigeon. Abraham did as he was instructed and then sat down to wait for God to make the next move.

In the mean time, vultures swooped down to try and eat the meat and Abraham had to chase them away.

I know, not a pretty picture. In my mind, the vultures are for us today, the sacrifice stealers.

Sacrifice stealers are all the things and even people who would keep us from a time of personal and private sacrificial time with God. Again, as this verse in Psalm 3 so beautifully puts it in the TPT version: “I lay out the pieces of my life on the altar and wait for your fire to fall upon my heart.”

The moment I turn my thoughts to God, He is listening. God is immediate in hearing us but God doesn’t always immediately respond. We might have to first lay out a sacrifice by setting a time to be alone with God, and then allow God time to respond in whatever way He chooses.

Just as Abraham waited through the night, we too must give God, not only the time to respond to us, but the place and way that He chooses to respond to us.

God answers our prayers and responds to our needs in so many different ways. Often, a song crosses my mind and it is the encouragement I needed. Sometimes, I open my Bible and the first verse I read is exactly what I needed. Writing out my thoughts, God sometimes leads me on a pathway to understanding.

God no longer requires the blood and flesh of animals but there is an altar on which we might lay out the pieces of our life and as we wait, praise Him, read about Him, think about Him and honor Him with our vigilance in keeping a time and place for Him alone, not only in our hearts but in our days.

Have you set apart even a small fragment of your day just to meet with the one who loves you most? He is the one who cares most about how you feel and what’s on your mind today. He alone knows what you will need to face the day ahead.

You may have to chase away the sacrifice stealers. You might need to silence your phone and perhaps ask others in your home to give you some space, but first, make the sacrifice of your time, for God’s sake and for yours.

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