Evenings have always been my favorite times of the day. Mornings never appealed to me much. I guess because it involves discipline to actually go to bed at a decent hour so I can then get up at a respectable time. It’s so much more fun to stay up late working on a totally unnecessary project or watching a movie I’m not even invested in because evenings are so much more exciting. All that to say that mornings are not usually my best time.
Along that line of thought, I have often felt guilty that I am not an early riser and that, unlike many other godly Christians I know, I do not have a quiet time of devotion with the Lord in the wee hours of the morning. In fact, I’ll admit that having a consistent daily quiet time with the Lord has always been a struggle for me. I think one of the main reasons for that is my own selfishness with my time, but another main reason is that I’ve always viewed spending time with the Lord as a performance, a duty, a way to gain favor with God. If I haven’t done my devotions for the day, I have had a dark cloud of guilt hanging over my head until I do them (pray and read my Bible). I feel unworthy to come to God with an urgent need that demands His attention because how can I ask for His help when I haven’t done my dutiful devotions that day? Add to that guilt and misunderstanding, the fact that I never was able to do my devotions in the morning. What a heathen! Of course we should give our first hours of the day to God, and since I wasn’t, well, I just was a second-rate Christian.
I’ve recently been learning that my guilty way of thinking is the opposite of how God wants us to view our relationship with Him. Devotion is not something you do out of duty. Devotion is to willingly and joyfully commit yourself to God out of a love and thankfulness for Him and all He has done! God does not love me or grant me favor based on my good works, but rather on the fact that I have been redeemed by His Son and adopted into His family. I think there are better names for a daily time of Bible reading and prayer than devotions (such as God and I Time or Quiet Time), but I do love the thought of being wholly devoted to God. Acknowledging God throughout all parts of my day and living conscious of His presence, His desires, His principles, and His ever present mercy, help and strength is the proper way to live. Do I live that way consistently? No, but I sure would like to!
Getting back to the topic of quiet times in the morning though, I do think it’s important to acknowledge God at the beginning of the day and to ask for His help. I’ve also come to realize that God should receive my best time of the day (which may not necessarily be the morning). This past Thursday I attended a ladies’ Bible study where a friend named Peg explained her morning prayer time. Here is the outline she uses to help give structure to her early morning prayer.
Adoration: Worship God by praising Him for one of His attributes. (“God, your unconditional love for me is a continual comfort.”)
Confession: Grieve with God over any known sin in your life. If no sin is known, perhaps pray with David the psalmist,
Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.
Thanksgiving: Thank God for each of your immediate family members by name. (“Thank you for Stephen who provides so selflessly for me. Thank you for Baby who will join us soon.”)
Supplication: Pray for your immediate family members and for yourself about something going on that day. (“Please give Stephen discernment as he makes decisions at work. Please give Baby health and protection. Please help me to love the children in my care at the preschool. In Jesus’ name, Amen.”)
This entire prayer can be prayed while still lying in bed and can be done in 30 seconds! Now that’s totally do-able for a non-morning person like me! Of course I don’t want to get in a routine of mindlessly praying a 30 second prayer just to say I’ve done it, or I don’t want to feel that I can’t pray longer than 30 seconds, but even on my most rushed mornings I can start the day off by talking to my Heavenly Father.Then, later when I’m not feeling rushed, and I have time to discuss my thoughts with the Lord, I can spend quality time praying for friends, extended family, fellow-Christians, non-believers, etc. It’s just nice to have a workable plan for starting off a day in light of God’s presence.