Swimmers fear and love the blocks, standing there before a race, waiting to climb that little platform, the brief prelude to the race. There is nervous, expectant anxiety there. And so we all develop little rituals, habitual movements to help calm our nerves — the stretches, arm swinging, and water splashing, performed in the same order, every time. It brings a measure of “known” to the “unknown” of the race about to begin. Engaging with the living God in prayer and personal worship is just as unnerving as a race, even at times more so. What hidden sins will prayerful reflection on God’s word uncover? How will seeing the risen Christ in the Scriptures leave us stunned? What new opportunities to walk in obedience will the Holy Spirit prompt? With these kinds of possibilities facing us every time we come to God in personal devotion (and corporate worship, for that matter) we have the opportunity to develop spiritual, pre-race rituals to prepare us for the blocks of the devotional life. Psalm 25:4-5 provides just such a routine in its five statements.
The first three statements are the same request said three different ways, nuance piling on in each iteration like a snowball that becomes an avalanche. The last two statements are grounding prayers, declarations of fact that provide justification for an answer. And so, Psalm 25:4-5 reads, “Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”
In our approach to God in worship, we can take David’s first request as our prayer to God, asking that God would reveal his ways to us. This is more than just a request for God to increase our knowledge of Bible facts. David is asking God to teach him practical wisdom, how the truths of Scripture fit together into the life of a follower of the Lord.