“And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35)
I sometimes wonder why we insist on rising in the morning, getting dressed and hurrying into the day, quite often without much thought of God. It’s a habit of our flesh to be undisciplined and slothful in truly important spiritual duties and opportunities. The Tempter likes that; the Spirit grieves about it.
John Bunyan, that amazing preacher of righteousness, was quite convicting when he wrote,
“He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day!”
I’m not sure he wrote that during a pastor’s busy day or whether in Bedford Jail, where he was incarcerated for preaching the Gospel; but it really makes serious, convicting sense to anyone wondering whether prayer is a valid way of communicating with God. And I love the words of the poet Ralph Spaulding Cushman who said,
“I met God in the morning when the day was at its best,
And His presence came like sunrise, like a glory in my breast.
All day long the Presence lingered, all day long He stayed with me,
And we sailed in perfect calmness o’er a very troubled sea.
Other ships were blown and battered, other ships were sore distressed,
But the winds that seemed to drive them brought to me a peace and rest.
Then I thought of other mornings, with a keen remorse of mind,
When I too had loosed the moorings, with the Presence left behind,
So I think I’ve found the secret, learned from many a troubled way,
You must seek Him in the morning if you want Him through the day!”
In my latter years my sleep habits find me in my recliner in the early morning, with a cup of decaf, reading and praying as I thumb though my prayer journal, looking into the pictures of so many friends and loved ones. What a deep spiritual joy it is to spend morning hours with my Savior, who intercedes for me at God’s Throne; and also to know the Holy Spirit is aiding my spirit in praise and requests to our Father in Heaven.
Yes, one secret to a truly joy-filled day, no matter what circumstances arise, is to:
“Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret with Jesus alone;
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.”
Oh, to take that time, to be that individual!
Tomorrow I have lunch with two friends. One is a Vietnam Veteran, a U.S. Marine and Roman Catholic; the other is a professed atheist and nihilist. I’ve been witnessing to them for almost five years. How I need prayer for these two!
Try it! I urge you to remember that our ability to live for God outside the prayer closet will be determined by our discipline to live with the Triune God in those secret times, hopefully in the morning before the sun rises to heat our day with busyness.
A closing thought from Leonard Ravenhill: “No man is greater than his prayer life; The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying!”
And from Samuel Chadwick, “Prayer is the acid test of devotion.”