Most of us struggle to get up early. Perhaps you don’t even bother trying. If you aren’t forced to get out of bed for your job or school, it is pretty easy to shrug off the conventional wisdom which suggests there is real value in rising with the sun. I encourage you to reconsider.
We are all free, and we ought to analyse how well we’re using that freedom to get closer to God. Each thing we do can be a response to God’s gifts – cooperation with his grace. If we respond well, we will be sanctified and made into truly happy saints. God has made you free to get up early and free to sleep in later. How do you justify your choice?
Mark 1:35 tells how, “rising very early before dawn, [Jesus] left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”
I like this verse because it reminds me why I enjoy morning prayer so much. First of all, it is clear that Christ is being intentional about prayer. He doesn’t just seize an opportunity; he makes an opportunity. There is no mistaking the emphasis a man places on prayer when he gets up “very early before the dawn” to pray. The second notable thing about the verse is that Christ has chosen to begin his day with prayer. This event takes place right before Christ spends a long day “preaching and driving out demons throughout the whole of Galilee” (Mark 1:39). Jesus prepares himself for the work of the day with prayer. He does not pray less with a demanding schedule; he prays more. He prays before the problems of the world meet him during the day and fill his thoughts in the evening. The third and final thing we can appreciate is that Christ goes to a “deserted place” to pray. He gets up before everyone else, and then he goes where no one else is. He is alone, and the solitude allows him to focus on the presence of God. This is the very best thing about prayer in the morning. Many Christians today like to emphasize how we can pray while doing other things. If someone is very busy and cannot find the time to pray, they are often told, “don’t worry, you can pray while driving” or “during lunch.” While I certainly wouldn’t tell anyone not to pray during these times, I would also argue that it is bound to be insufficient. We get out of prayer what we put into it. God is supposed to be the very center of our lives, and a few distracted Our Fathers isn’t exactly a recipe for true devotion.
If you pray in the morning you’ll soon discover a whole new side of prayer. The silence and peaceful atmosphere will draw you into the kind of deeper mediation that really transforms people. You will build a relationship with God, and you’ll find yourself longing to get back there, asking for “just five more minutes” of time to pray before your responsibilities come knocking.
Don’t believe me? Try it.