Before I had children I had little problem with the discipline of finding a time to sit and read my Bible and spend some time in prayer. I lived close to my workplace and didn’t have to leave home until 8:40 to arrive for my start time. Tim left for work around 6:30 and so I had at the very least 2 hours every single morning that I used (not all of it, don’t be crazy) for my devos.
Then 2002 happened....and Hannah happened. And then 20 months later, Alison happened. And 2 ½ years after that Emily happened. And do you know what didn’t happen? My quiet times. They all but disappeared. Sure, every so often I would rally and out would come my bible and for a few weeks I would read and pray regularly. But then sickness would strike....and once again it would be months before I would pick up my bible or prayer journal. Mostly I would placate myself with the words “these are difficult times, Melissa. You’re not sleeping full nights and your days are certainly stressful caring for the three young children.” Tim worked long hours six days per week so even as a family we were running on almost empty. I felt that my passion for Christ was lukewarm. I certainly wasn’t enjoying the presence of the Holy Spirit on a daily basis. My sinful attitudes such as anger and a critical spirit were at an all time high and my desire to fight sin was weak.
I knew in my heart that I needed to seek God every day and ask Him for His strength to get thru the days. I continually relied on my own strength and was failing pretty miserably. I often thought about a conversation with a much loved and well respected woman from my church – some of you may know her, Florence McBride. She shared with me about how as a young mom she knew that she needed to intentionally carve out time in each day to spend with the Lord. The only time that worked for her was 5:00 a.m. That’s crazy, I thought to myself, in my “no children days” mind.
But something had to change. As I mentioned earlier, Tim leaves for work very early. For all of our almost 13 years of marriage I have woken with him, packed his lunch and prepared his breakfast. I have always enjoyed doing this for him and never had an issue with getting up to do something loving for him. About two years ago I made the decision to stay up rather than return to bed once the morning duties for Tim had been completed. For me it’s actually quite easy to use this time for my devos. I’m already up, the coffee is hot and fresh and I have no kids to bother me.
There is no scriptural law to rise early and spend time with God; however, there is biblical encouragement. Psalm 5:3 says “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation”.
I just finished reading a book called “Shopping for Time: How to do it ALL without becoming overwhelmed”. A few chapters are dedicated to extolling the virtue of rising early (or earlier than you are currently getting up. Here’s a great quote from John Piper from his book “When I don’t desire God”: “I earnestly recommend that it be in the early morning unless there are some extenuating circumstances. Entering the day without a serious meeting with God, over his Word and in prayer, is like entering the battle without tending to your weapons. The human heart does not replenish itself with sleep. The body does, but not the heart...We replenish our hearts not with sleep, but with the Word of God and prayer.”
I was talking about this with a friend last night and she had this to add (in my own words). What are we afraid of? What keeps so many of us from rising early to spend time with God? I think the most popular reason is that we say “I’m too tired. I’ll be too irritable during the day with one hour less of sleep.” But let’s remember our friend Daniel from the Old Testament. He was much loved and well-respected by King Darius. Daniel worked alongside 2 other administrators who did not believe in God. Daniel worked more efficiently and capably than all of his colleagues and thus gained the King’s favour. Daniel’s colleagues schemed to find a way to kill him. They convinced the King to enforce a decree which forbid anyone to pray to any god or man during the next 30 days or he shall be thrown into the lion’s den. So King Darius agreed and issued the decree. But did this stop Daniel? Did he stop praying to his faithful and ever-loving God? Did he choose his life over death in the lion’s den? It would be a horrific and terribly painful death to be thrown into the den of lions. But “when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.” (Daniel 6:10, NIV). It was discovered that Daniel was praying to God and we all know what happens next. He is taken before the King, accused and ordered to be thrown into the lion’s den. And we also know that God sent an angel to shut the lions’ mouth and keep Daniel safe.....all because he continued to TRUST the LORD.
Can we not also trust the Lord? Trust Him to bless us with energy to get thru a day with less sleep? Seems nearly ridiculous right?....to compare our issue of praying early in the morning to Daniel’s issue of making the choice to pray or be thrown in the Lion’s den.
These thoughts are not to condemn you....or make you feel guilty. My intention isn’t to make you believe that I have it all together and no longer sin throughout the day or make all of the right choices all of the time. Rather it’s to encourage you and remind you that “When we seek God through his Word and prayer, we glean wisdom for walking carefully. We obtain guidance for daily decisions. We find peace in the midst of life’s whirlwind. We are infused with strength to complete our tasks.” (Shopping for Time”). Are you able to find quiet time during the day....or do you need to join the 5:42 a.m. club with me and rise before the rest of your household.
May God bless you with courage to rise early and trust that He will carry you through the day.
Thank you for staying with me thru this very very very long post. J
Have a fantastic day!