Eyelids crusty and sore. Sun still sleeping below the horizon. Peacefully quiet. Dimly lit with one lamp on next to the couch. The smell of hot coffee wafting into my nose. Head aching, muscles feeling tight. Eyes not wanting to focus in on the words in front of me. Temptation towards the wrong desires, the wrong thoughts, the wrong motives has already accosted me. As a newborn baby weakly looks up to a mother for comfort in their weakness, I look up to my Lord with strained eyes to desperately grasp for the strength to continue, to fight. My body is betraying me. My mind is attacking me. My enemy is continuing the pursuit of my soul, my affections, my attention. And so…most mornings begin, sometimes with tear-filled eyes as I see my frailty, weakness, and inability. It is almost overwhelming even to try to mouth a prayer that seems coherent. Finishing sentences seems as hard as driving a rear-wheel drive car in a foot of snow. I find myself fading in and out. My thoughts wander to the day, to the problems in our church, to the people who are hurting, to my family’s needs, to the projects I need to complete, to the impossibility of my to-do list that stares me in the face every week. I just want to finish my prayer…but I can’t seem to discipline my mind, so I spend 20 minutes praying a 5-minute prayer and wasting the other 15 on unproductive worry, distractions, and discouragements. Welcome to my typical Tuesday morning at 5 a.m.
Do you ever find yourself having the hardest part of your day be the part that you have set apart to read God’s Word, to pray, to commune with your Lord and Savior? Perhaps it is just me, but this seems to be my daily habit. What you would think to be the highlight of my day often feels a lot more like wrestling a hippo to the death in a slippery mud pit during a thunderstorm while running on 4 hours of sleep. The Lord is so patient with me…I would never be that patient. I know myself too well. For how weak I am, I find my heart betraying me and being harsh with those who are weaker than me in some area or another. What an ugly thing. I find most mornings, I walk away repenting of my repentance. Feeling as though I have said things to my Lord, and yet my heart is dull, unmoving. God is so kind to a sinner like me.
There have been questions as to what my morning routine looks like with the Lord. So here is an example of what my goal is most mornings.
Begin with Prayer. I am currently reading through The Valley of Vision, which is a collection of Puritan prayers. Before reading the prayer for the day, I ask God to help me to mean this prayer I will read with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. I ask that He would make me a great man of prayer and teach me how to pray because I am so incapable. At the end of my reading, I will then launch into my own personal prayer for the day.
Next is Spurgeon. I am currently reading through Charles Sprugeon’s Morning and Evening devotional. I read the morning and evening one in the morning and find that to be a satisfying amount of devotional time spent. I am always amazed at how eloquent and creative Spurgeon is when he explains things. He truly is able to make the Bible come alive. What a blessing to the church he has been!
Lastly is my personal Scripture reading time. At one point in time, my goal was to read the Bible 3-4 times each year. That goal has been sidetracked since I started classes at The Master’s University back in August. My goal currently is to read 3-4 hours of Scripture each week. This makes it flexible for me so that if I have more time one morning or another, I can make up time I may not have on another morning.
Bonus: Sometimes, I have extra time in the morning, so I will spend that time working on one of the many books I am always attempting to read through. Currently, my “books at home” that I read in the morning and before bed are Calvin’s Institutes of the Christian Religion, translated by Robert White and Charles Spurgeon’s Autobiography in two volumes. No matter what the morning looks like, my personal time with the Lord always ends the way it began…with prayer. Specifically, in this prayer, I look to thank God and ask Him to help me to be the holy, humble, and wise man that I am called to be.
If I were to encourage towards any one thing in your own personal devotions today, it would be this. If you are not currently reading the Scriptures every morning, begin with reading a chapter of Psalms Proverbs. Make it a discipline. Make it happen. It will change your life! If you are reading Scripture, ensure that you are spending at least a few minutes praying over your day. Pray for those close to you. Pray for yourself. Pray that God will be glorified in your day. If you are reading Scripture and praying every morning, I would encourage you to add either some theological or devotional reading to help you grow. No matter what stage you are at currently, I would encourage you all to work on meditating on the Scriptures throughout the day. Pick a verse and just repeat it to yourself throughout the day. See how it applies to and transforms your day!
May the Lord bless your week as you seek His kingdom first!
Grace and Peace,