Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
I think it is very significant that Mark’s Gospel has this in the first Chapter. Scholars are pretty well universally agreed that Mark recorded Peter’s memories of his time with Jesus, so Jesus doing this sort of thing obviously made a huge impression on one of His closest disciples. I am consistently mystified at Christians who don’t seem to feel they need to pray, much less have consistent morning devotions. When morning prayer was obviously so important to Jesus, how can we think we don’t need it? There are two advantages to morning as a time for devotions. The first is simply the lack of distractions. The world has a way of grabbing our attention pretty early, so we’re better off choosing to focus on God as early in the day as possible. Jesus obviously did it before dawn sometimes. The other factor is one of human physiology. It has been demonstrated that we learn best mentally in the morning, while physical learning is more efficient in the afternoon. That makes students’ staying up all night to study all the more ironic, and even sad. There is a third factor involved, and that is simply the matter of priorities. When we place God first in time each day it’s easier to keep Him first in our thinking and decisions throughout the day. Jesus is our example, and we do well to follow Him.
Doing devotions first thing in the day has been my lifestyle since the early ’70s, and I am deeply grateful. The difficulty of maintaining that is perhaps the thing I dislike most about traveling. (In general I enjoy traveling.) Particularly with flying across the International Date Line, headed East it’s too long between devotions, and headed West I have to manage on the airplane, which is hardly the most conducive environment. I have to take that as training in active focus. I don’t hear the Father as easily as Jesus did, naturally, so I need to read the Bible. However, when I do, I find the Father does speak to me with delightful regularity. I know that He speaks to me far more often than I am listening, and morning devotions are an excellent opportunity to choose to listen. That said, I must always remember James 1:22 and focus on doing what I hear my Lord say to me, and not just play pious mind games. As a pastor I earnestly desire that everyone in my flock discover the joy and blessings of starting each day with active focus on listening obediently to God, and it is a major frustration, and even heartache, when so few really take it up for themselves. As the saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you certainly can’t make him drink. I am not to condemn, but I am to continually admonish and encourage, so that they may choose to accept this powerful tool from their Father
Father, thank You for Your grace to me. Thank You for my parents’ example. I always knew they had individual morning devotions, even though they did them privately. You know how long it took for me to get started in a consistent habit! Help me be a good spiritual father to many, so that they may learn to relate rightly to You and reject the devil’s lies, for their great blessing and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!