Sitting in chapel at Liberty University, in the late 80’s, many a speaker would challenge those in attendance (mandatory no less) to rise early and study the Bible. We would be reminded that Mark 1:35 says, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” So the logic is that if Jesus gets up early we too should get up early. I would feel guilty about those statements. Here I am studying for the ministry and can’t get up early to study God’s word. “Really? What a lazy bum I must be.”
Those statements haunted me for years. The thought that I too should wake up, pick up my Bible and read and pray before my day even began. There were times I would make myself do this because, well, it was the right thing to do, right? This was mainly out of guilt, not because of a relationship. Even in my accountability group of 6 men, who have meet together for over 15 years at a local McDonald’s at 7 AM, one of the guys each week has already spent time in the Bible before ever showing up to McDonald’s. So my guilt continued.
Now, before someone judges me too harshly, understand that getting up early is a good thing and starting your day with God in His word and prayer is a good thing. I just had trouble for years and because men who were close enough to God to speak in chapel said to get up and do this, I felt guilty many days when I did not start my day with God.
In thinking about these speakers as I entered my fifth decade of life,I discovered something. As you age, your bladder wakes you up;I have not set an alarm in years. I started to wake up at 6 AM no matter what time I go to bed and at almost 60 years of age I am now awake between 5 AM to 5:30 AM each day. It’s a bladder thing and not a spiritual thing. Thinking back now to those chapel days, oh, I wish one of those guys would have been honest with me on the topic of early devotions. I am now sure for many it was bladder and not just sure discipline.
Now, I do get up early. I just acquired a great chair and I have placed it in our sitting room at our house. With tablet in hand, and Bible app open, each morning I fix a cup of coffee, read a chapter from God’s word, study any area I feel I need to with my digital commentaries and then spend time in prayer. Then I nap a bit until my wife wakes up. This is becoming a special time. It is a great way to start the day. I would even urge others to have this discipline in their life, but understand I am not so disciplined, I am just taking advantage of aging.
So the take home points: have a time with God and if morning works, that is great time, but if you’re not a morning person, do not feel guilty. God wants a relationship with you. He is more concerned with you spending time with Him because you want to rather than because you have to. Let devotions flow out of love for the Father.