(Image citation – created by Tracy Cooper on Vanillapen)
“In the morning, long before sunrise, Jesus went to a place where he could be alone to pray.”
For years, I tried and failed to establish a consistent and meaningful habit of spending time with the Lord. Reading the bible, praying and worshipping Him were all confined to Sunday mornings, and then nudged out by the activities of a busy life the rest of the week. When I did do it, I would fall asleep or find it to be unenjoyable, considering it more an obligation than a blessing. Occasionally, there would be short stretches of time of few days or a week when I would do devotions quasi-regularly. But then I’d somehow slip off the rails again, neglecting to read the word and pray for weeks or months at a time. Of course, there was always a perfectly good excuse. That’s what I told myself anyway. I simply didn’t understand that it was a critical part of cultivating growth and joy in my life.
In 2011, my mornings were transformed after the birth of my third child. When my son was a couple of weeks old, I decided it would be beneficial to buy a Kindle so that I could read with one hand while nursing him. Once it arrived, I charged it up, downloaded some books, devotionals and a bible (all either free or very low cost) and began reading. Before I knew it, I was regularly spending time in the word and praying because I was tethered to my infant son, up at all hours feeding him. This was especially true of the early mornings. I read to keep myself awake, though sometimes I’d drift away, Kindle in one hand, baby in the other.
Some months later, the baby was weaned, but I was hooked on the habit of doing devotions and praying in the mornings. For far too long, I had failed to place God first in this area and the evidence of it was clear in my life. I lacked patience, focus, wisdom and grace when dealing with others. Not being in the Word had made me spiritually anemic. This new habit really caused me to grow stronger in the Lord and awakened in me a deep hunger for more of His word.
Six years have elapsed since then. Now, I am up early and make a beeline to my little prayer room with a cup of coffee by 5:30 daily to spend time with Jesus. I originally started out with five or ten minutes, but now spend an hour in devotion, prayer and listening to Christian podcasts each morning. The most important change I see in myself is that I yearn for that time with the Lord now. It is not a chore or a drag, but a necessity. In fact, I am planning to start rising even earlier so that I can spend more time in my prayer room before the busyness of each new day begins. This will mean sacrificing at nighttime and going to bed at an earlier hour, perhaps giving up some television or social media time, but I know the good fruit it will bear.
Sometimes the scriptures from the morning resurface later in the day or week to serve as confirmation, correction or encouragement to me in my own daily dealings. At other times, the Lord enables me to use them as encouragement to someone else. I don’t want to miss these opportunities, so I choose not to miss sunrise time with my Savior.
Willfully choosing to be a “morning person” when it comes to spending time with God has transformed my life in so many ways. By putting Him first, I am inviting Him into the position of Lordship over my life that He rightfully deserves. I encourage you to try it, even if only for a few minutes as you begin each new day. There’s no better way to begin a new day, connecting with God and being equipped to be used by Him in whatever the day brings.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” –Matthew 6:33