My initial meeting with Father upon accepting the 365 — 6 a.m. Challenge had taken a surprising turn.
The encounter began on familiar terms. For more than a year I started my morning prayer time with the three prayers described in my ebook 3 Prayers That Start Your Day Off Right.
Without fail, the declarations of those prayers awakened my awareness of God’s Presence and His Peace.
More than that, as I delved into the significance of words and terms in those prayers, I experienced what the Apostle Paul prayed for the Ephesian believers…
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you
The first green shoots from the seeds planted by the “365—6 a.m. Challenge” were beginning to sprout.
The more I discovered about God, the more I realized how much I still had to learn. I had no doubt that He would use the “365 — 6 a.m. Challenge” to do just that!
I was ready!
The second part of our meeting—memorizing Scripture—was one of the surprises.
Starting with the Shema, I made an initial list of Psalms that I intended to set as my mental and spiritual “default operating system”.
These would form the basis upon which to evaluate my thinking, feeling and choosing. They would become the filters through which I would observe my circumstances and interpret my experiences.
I tackled this part of the "Challenge" with firm resolve and excited anticipation based on the results I was seeing.
The third part of the 365 — 6 a.m. Challenge was another surprise.
(1) Read one Psalm each day.
Begin with Psalm 1, followed by Psalm 31 the next morning, 61…91…121 and finally Proverbs 1.
Start the next cycle with Psalm 2, followed by 32, 62, 92, 122 and Proverbs 2…and so on.
The sequence was unusual and disruptive, but I realized that old cycles must be broken before they can be replaced with new ones and old thought patterns need to be disrupted before new insight can be perceived.
(2) In a notebook or journal, copy the verse or verses that catch your attention.
Underline keywords that are significant to you and jot down any comment or insight that comes to mind.
Keep it brief and keep it personal…this is Holy Spirit speaking to you.
He is very succinct when He speaks and He addresses Himself to you very personally.
He is not so concerned about what YOU think as He is about communicating to you what FATHER thinks.
As you continue with these morning conversations, you will find ample opportunity to express what you think.
In the beginning, it is important to be still and listen to His whispers.
Remember, it is the Father who invited you to take up the "365—6 a.m. Challenge". There is something of Himself that He wants to share with you.
If you are willing to listen, the Word that He speaks to you will be alive and transformational.
Be still and listen to His whispers.
As I continued meeting God morning by morning at 6 a.m., I found myself engaging in the routine with greater mindfulness.
With the 3 prayers comfortably committed to memory, my mind began to focus on the words and phrases with greater attention. Using the thesaurus, I looked up certain words and explored nuances of their meaning.
Although I use the New King James Bible for memorizing and journaling, some mornings I compared the day’s Psalm with other translations.(a)
Sometimes as I entered attention-catching verses in my journal, I found myself wondering what the original Hebrew rendering was. A few minutes of research using an online Strong’s Concordance inevitably resulted in gems of insight.(b)
My daily morning routine became an amazing mind-enlarging, faith-emboldening experience. The benefits of this daily early morning encounter with God infiltrated every part of my day.
The Word was coming alive…my faith was coming alive…I was coming alive!
It dawned on me how the pieces of the “365—6 a.m. Challenge” fit together.
The discipline of memorizing the Word evoked increasing mindfulness, attention and focus on the message. I began to understand how this truly was a different kind of meditation.
The relaxed, personal “conversation with a friend over a cup of coffee” context of these meetings continually reminded me that the objective of my meditation was to know Father more personally and more intimately, not theology.
I want to know who He is, what He is like, what and how He thinks. I want to know how He feels. I want to learn how to respond to Him as a true friend, as His beloved son.
The Psalms I was memorizing and journaling were certainly helping me find answers to those questions. They were also revealing a lot about myself.
Rather than finding myself getting absorbed (and stuck) in myself, in my own thoughts, feelings and reactions to people and circumstances—one of the greatest downsides of typical journaling—“Holy Spirit journaling” guided my mind to share God’s thoughts, feelings and instruction.
Rather than trying to find peace by chanting a mantra and absenting my mind of all conscious thought, “meditative memorization” was invigorating my mind with the living Word of God. My heart found refuge and peace in knowing my heavenly Father personally and intimately.
God was manifesting the answers to my "3 prayers" as He promised. God was ever-enlarging my revelation of Him (Prayer #1). I was being transformed as my mind engage His Word (Prayer # 2). My trust in Him was affecting all my ways (Prayer #3).
I had discovered a "mother lode".
(a) An excellent source of different versions of the Bible, translations in other languages and Bible study resources is www.biblegateway.com.
(b) An excellent and easy to use online Strong’s Concordance is www.biblestudytools.com. It also has great Bible commentaries.