Psalms 5:3 In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice;
in the morning I lay my requests before you
and wait in expectation.
Probably ever since the Garden of Eden people have discovered or realized that it’s a good idea to approach God first thing in the morning. It’s not that the time makes any difference to God, but it certainly makes a difference to us. In the simplest terms, it’s an expression of priorities, quite literally putting God first, ahead of all the other demands of the day. After all, our relationship with God should be the foundation of our relationship with everyone and everything else. When we fail to recognize and acknowledge that fact, everything else gets all out of whack, as the saying goes. These days electronics are a huge distraction, making constant demands for our attention, and that makes a practice of devotion to God all the more difficult. However, the rewards for dedication and faithfulness are immense. The world chases meaning, peace, and joy, and all of those are supplied by meeting with God every morning, in a way and to a degree that those without faith simply cannot imagine. When we start each day focusing on God, submitting our issues and our concerns to Him, then His guidance, His comfort, and His peace abide with us throughout the day to a degree that cannot happen otherwise. We think we simply don’t have time, but that is forgetting that God created time, and it is saying that other things are more important than God. The most common objection is, “I can’t get up that early,” but if we would make it enough of a priority to go to bed earlier at night, that wouldn’t be an issue. That’s why the devil does all he can to have the “most interesting” TV shows on late at night, not to mention people using their phones or tablets even after they go to bed. We indeed need sufficient sleep, so that isn’t the issue. What is the issue is whether the late-night stuff is more important to us than meeting with our Creator and hearing from Him.
I’ve written before about how I tried to start a devotional practice as a college student, but I think it lasted about three days. It wasn’t until I was a married father, out of the Army, even, that the Lord showed me the level of pride that had been blinding me and keeping me from recognizing my absolute need for Him. I honestly don’t remember the details, but I think it was around that time that I started having a consistent time of praying and reading the Bible each morning. My epiphany was in November of 1972, so I’ve been having daily devotions for about 50 years now. It was around 20 years ago that I was at a seminar led by Wayne Cordeiro and heard him explain his SOAP system of devotions. After reading a longer passage, either from reading through the Bible or from some other Bible reading program, you choose a specific section, from part of a verse to a few verses, that speaks especially to you, and write that in our notes. That’s the Scripture. You then rephrase that, putting it into historical context and contemporary context. That is your Observation. Then you ask God what difference that should make in our life, and that’s the Application. You follow that up by recording your response to God to all of that, as a Prayer. As Wayne said in that seminar was true for him, ever since I started doing that I’ve never been at a loss as to what to preach! Most importantly, I now have a rock-solid assurance that God indeed speaks to me, regularly and often in detail, and I am deeply grateful. As a pastor I seek to encourage all of the believers to follow that pattern, but so far few have. Those who do, however, live lives of joy and hope that are exemplary.
Father, thank You for Your grace in getting me on the right path. Thank You for the joy and privilege of pointing others in that direction as well. May more and more discover the incredible grace of walking with You, starting first thing each morning, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!