Most mornings I wake up and go for a run, creating a mini-crisis.
What do you think about while exercising? I think about many things while running. For one, my thoughts are scattered in the darkness around, but eventually they take upon a new order as I turn to meditate on Scripture. Usually the passage from Sunday’s sermon (e.g., if on an early Monday morning) comes to mind, and I mull over what I said and should have said. Or the text I will speak on the following Sunday fills my mind, followed by its implications. I meditate on truth, and meaning, and beauty, and most of all, seek to loop back to the Father’s character.
To be honest, I don’t always feel like running, nor do I always feel like thinking. Sometimes I just want to “zone out.” But this is a sacred moment, perhaps an hour of uninterrupted personal space, the only of its kind that day.
The discipline of running — and going for a run, whether I feel like it or not — is akin to other disciplines in life. Like the effort needed empty the dishwasher, fold clothes, listen to voicemail, or respond to that ill-timed email. These habits are hardly convenient, but daily necessary. Like getting in the rhythm and routine of opening the Bible to allow God’s thoughts to interrupt and intersect my thoughts. This is Letting in Light, the brightest Light shining in the deepest darkness.
[Video: God Wrote a Book from Desiring God.]
In chapter nine of When I Don’t Desire God, John Piper introduces a memorable and helpful acronym for what to pray before reading Scripture: I. O. U. S. »
- Incline my heart to you, not to prideful gain or any false motive. (Psalm 119:36)
- Open my eyes to behold wonderful things in your Word. (Psalm 119:18)
- Unite my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86:11)
- Satisfy me with your steadfast love. (Psalm 90:14)
An unfortunate side effect of repeatedly praying the same prayer is that, over a period of time, it can lose its sense of pertinence. One way to keep it fresh is to unpack the content with language that expresses what you mean in a new way. 1
For example, here’s an amplification of the I. O. U. S. prayer:
- Incline my heart to you, not to prideful gain or any false motive. That is, focus my affections and desires upon you, and eradicate everything in me that would oppose such a focus.
- Open my eyes to behold wonderful things in your Word. That is, let your light shine and show me what you have willed to communicate through the biblical authors.
- Unite my heart to fear your name. That is, enthrall me with who you are.
- Satisfy me with your steadfast love. That is, fulfill me with the fact that your covenant love has been poured out on me through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.