“The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
There is an old adage that goes something like this: “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise.” Now, I’m not sure about the “healthy, wealthy and wise” part, but I am a bit of a creature of habit when it comes to the “early to bed, early to rise” portion of this quip.
The main reason for this is that those first couple of early morning hours, well before the sun rises and the rest of the house begins to stir, is my favourite time of day. While the house is still quiet enough to hear the proverbial pin drop, before my better half gets up and the dog scratches at the door to go outside to pee, I like to curl up in my favourite chair, coffee cup in hand, and spend some time in prayerful meditation in the pages of my Bible.
More recently, I have undertaken as a part of my early morning devotions to create a hand-written copy of the Bible. At the time of this writing, I have already completed the entire New Testament and am now in the Old Testament, nearing the end of Genesis. (For more on that, see these two blog posts: Me as an Amanuensis: Morning Devotional's Next Level? and Morning Devotions Are Awesome Once Again).
I’m not alone in my love for the early morning devotional lifestyle; many others throughout the ages have done likewise. Even Jesus himself, very early in the morning, would go off somewhere by himself to a quiet solitary place so that he could pray (Mark 1:35). “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed," says Luke 5:16. Likewise it was Martin Luther who is quoted to have said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” Though Luther’s quote seems like a bit of an oxymoron, I am starting to understand the logic in it.
Getting up between 4:00 and 4:30 every morning (often before the alarm even rings) comes with a price, however. Since I need a solid 7-8 hours sleep per night, it means I’m usually ready for bed by 8:00pm. So while many others are just sitting down to their favourite television sitcoms, or going out for coffee or drinks, I’m already drifting off to dreamland. Not being much of a TV person, that’s a price that, for me personally, is easily paid. “Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man, healthy, wealthy and wise?” Hmm, that would be nice, but that’s not really why I do it.
The real driving force behind my early morning ritual (“ritual,” for lack of a better word) is that I find it easier to hear God’s still soft voice when there are less noisy distractions to keep me from hearing Him. The point is, I want to hear God. Before the hustle and bustle of our fast-paced world heats up and inevitably rattles my nerves, my focus is easier tuned to God and that which He would desire to communicate to me. When I give God the first and best part of my day, when I am first awakened and refreshed from a good night’s sleep, and before the workplace’s pressures of the day begin to mount, Bible reading and prayer is the glue that ultimately holds my day together.
That’s not to say that I don’t also have stress-filled and anxious workdays as well; the Lord knows that I do. However when such days happen, it’s interesting to note that I’ve probably also either missed my early morning devotions, or simply didn’t spend enough time (or any time) in prayer at the start of the day. This is no magical formula, nor is it a simply a religious exercise or incantation seeking to force the hand of God, but I do believe that there is something special about the early mornings that honors God and brings about His peace for the day. And ultimately is that not what we all desire; to honor God, and have peace-filled days? For Christians, I think it is.
Well there you have it; my reason for “Early to bed, early to rise.” It has nothing to do with being “healthy, wealthy and wise.” But it does have everything to do with honoring God and striving to make it through yet another day. Peace and blessings to you and yours.
I got up early one morning
And rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish,
That I didn’t have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me,
And heavier came each task;
“Why doesn’t God help me?” I wondered.
He answered, “You didn’t ask.”
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
But the day toiled on gray and bleak;
I wondered why God didn’t show me,
He said, “But you didn’t seek.”
I tried to come into God’s presence,
I used all my keys in the lock;
God gently and lovingly chided,
“My child, you didn’t knock.”
I woke up early this morning,
And paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish,
That I had to take time to pray.
Photo: A selfie (there was no one else up at that hour to take the picture).