Psalm 5:3 has long been one of my favorite verses on prayer.
“In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to you and eagerly watch.” (NASB)
“O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.” (ESV)
“In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you and watch expectantly.” (CSB)
I see 4 keys to prayer in this simple verse.
1. Make the commitment to pray. (“You will hear my voice.”)
David is saying that God can expect to hear him pray on a regular basis. Do you pray regularly or sporadically? Do you seek God daily in prayer? Sometimes Christians rationalize they are too busy to pray. Prayer is not something you have time to do—it is something you make time to do.
2. Begin the day in prayer. (“In the morning, O Lord, you will hear my voice; in the morning. . .”)
Twice in this verse the phrase “in the morning” is used. The Hebrew notion is that of daybreak.
David indicates a time of day when he prays: “in the morning.” I don’t think this is the only time of day David prayed, but it is indicative of David’s commitment to begin each day in God’s presence in prayer.
Though we can pray anytime throughout the day, it is always good to begin the day in prayer.
3. Organize your prayers. (“I will order my prayer to you.”)
Among the Hebrew uses of the word translated “order” here was the activity of the priests in gathering the wood for the fire on the Altar of Burnt Offering. Once gathered, the wood was not placed haphazardly, but symmetrically on the fire.
The word also was used to describe the laying out of the pieces of the sacrifice on the Altar of Burnt Offering.
Do you “order” or “arrange” your prayers to God? Some people pray haphazardly, with their thoughts and prayers so disjointed they are like a marauding horde. We should pray such that our prayer requests march before the throne of God in an orderly fashion.
It would be wise to keep an up to date prayer list. That way, you maintain order in your prayer life.
4. Expect God to answer. (“…and eagerly watch.”)
When you pray, expect God to answer. Don’t be like those praying for Peter’s release from prison in Acts 12:12-16. God answered their prayers by miraculously releasing Peter from his imprisonment.
When he came to the house and knocked on the door where they were praying, the servant girl Rhoda heard Peter’s voice but was so overjoyed that she forgot to let him in! Rushing inside she told the prayer meeting group that Peter was at the door. They thought she was crazy. They could not believe God had answered their prayers!
I’m reminded of the children’s Sunday School class that wrote letters to missionaries. They had been instructed that the missionaries might not be able to write back. One child wrote: “We are praying for you. We are not expecting an answer.” I’m afraid that’s what lots of us sometimes do. We pray—but we don’t really expect God to answer.
I like the way Eugene Peterson renders this verse in his paraphrase, The Message:
“Every morning you’ll hear me at it again. Every morning I lay out the pieces of my life on your altar and watch for fire to descend.”
Pray regularly, consistently, orderly, and expectantly—and watch for the fire to fall!