Getting out of bed in the morning can be a challenge or a gift. I have thankfully gotten to the place where I wake without an alarm clock, because I’m certain that the sound they make is akin to something of a demonic nature. Regardless of whether we waken to the sound of a buzzer, a rooster or simply to the sounds of the day, that moment provides us the opportunity to spend some time alone with God. We can choose to roll over and grab ten more minutes of sleep or eagerly embrace the chance to commune with the One who gave us life. I long excused my surly attitude in the early hours by simply saying that I was not a morning person. I still prefer late nights, but the practice of rising before dawn and enjoying some time with God has softened my interactions with others in the morning.
I heard for years about the discipline of starting your day with God in some form of “devotions” or “quiet time”, yet the practice always eluded me; it seemed rigid and forced. Now that I have finally integrated this habit into my life, I can unequivocally tell you that it is worth the effort. The key is to find what works for you. I don’t believe there’s a set formula to follow; telling someone to read their Bible for 10 minutes, pray for 5, then wash it down with a cup of coffee while reading a devotional just isn’t going to cut it for a lot of people. I personally don’t even like coffee, so I’d never recommend grabbing a cup of joe as you curl up with the Bible. The key is to make this a personal time with God; being personal means that it will look different for each one of us.
Certain elements for your morning time will probably be pretty consistent across the board. You’ll want to spend some time reading His Word, because this is how we learn about Christ and gain a greater understanding of the mission He has given us to do. What and how much to read is really up to you. Some read a single verse and work to squeeze out every ounce of meaning from it; some read a chapter, some several as they move toward reading through the Bible in a year’s time. Another popular method I’ve seen over the years is to read a chapter of Proverbs a day along with 5 Psalms; in this way you read through both books each month. It doesn’t matter if you read the Old Testament or the New; all of Scripture is useful in finding out more about the character of God.
Another common element will be spending some time in prayer. Again, there doesn’t need to be a set time. The goal here is just to be still and talk with Jesus. This is a time when the physical realm comes near to the spiritual. God’s Spirit within you facilitates your communication with Him. Until you learn to speak comfortably with God, it will be very difficult to fully live out the life He created for you. We collaborate in His mission on earth; partners who don’t speak usually do not produce outstanding results. If you are unaccustomed to praying, it may be difficult at first, but stick with it. Your Father longs to know you and to be known by you.
I encourage you to try getting up a little early in the morning and spend some time with God. Try rising just ten minutes early to start, and gradually work your way up to a duration that gives you ample time to get to know God through reading His Word and conversing with Him. You may want to throw in a book to read that helps you learn more about Him or perhaps spend some time listening to music and worshipping Him. Awakening before everyone else in the house affords you the quiet and solitude to focus wholly on Jesus, a time without distractions. This discipline has resulted in a far more positive and joyful attitude both in the morning and throughout my day. Most experts agree that it takes about 21 days to form a new habit. The sooner you begin to lead off your mornings spending time alone with God, the sooner it will be a habit in your life and you can begin to notice a significant difference in your attitude and outlook. That change will radically affect your life and cause you to look more like Jesus. That is the goal, after all; to live a life that looks like Christ as we engage in continuing His mission in a world so desperate for His love.