Mornings do not come naturally to me.
Personally, I don’t think that mornings come naturally to anyone. I always secretly resented that girl in my 8am college class, who arrived early, wearing a Pinterest-worthy outfit, with hair freshly washed and styled, coffee in hand as evidence that this was not the first place she had been this morning, and was talking about the glorious weather on her morning jog. I would always look down at my grubby jeans and oversized tee shirt, with wisps of hair sticking to my chapstick-ed lips, a lidless coffee mug balancing in hand, and think that I was just thankful I remembered to brush my teeth (and just a bit thankful that I was currently sipping said coffee, so that I didn’t try to shut her spunky self up…).
When it comes to morning routine, I have to be very careful not to idealistically schedule any unnecessary commitment into them. I have tried committing to morning workouts, only to hit the snooze on the second day. I have tried committing to cooking a good breakfast, but always end up with a handful of frosted flakes on my way out the door. The truth is, I don’t make time or room for things that aren’t vitally important. Like a pastor crafting the Sunday liturgy, I only to choose to put into my mornings that which is necessary and essential.
One of those vitally important things that I have made the difficult and, at times, tenuous commitment to making room for is a morning devotional time. Each night, I set the alarm earlier than it would otherwise need to chirp, and each morning I wake up, start the coffee, and sit down to spend time with our Lord. I pull out my Bible, plop it on my lap, and let myself settle slowly into prayer and praise. I pray through lists of requests – both for me and others. I pray through a Psalm, letting my prayers fall in line with the prayers of God’s Word. I read through a chapter or two in whatever book of the Bible I’m currently going through, and let my heart be nourished, corrected, encouraged, and strengthened by the Word of God.
And something has changed in me. Something about this morning rhythm has started to alter my countenance, alter my thinking, alter … me. And it is not just that the Word of God is teaching me, though that is certainly happening. But there is also an unspoken rhythm that is shaping me, a discipline and practice that is formative in itself. Even as I pick up my Bible from the nigh stand, and set it in my lap, just as I do each morning, a work is being done in me. A sacredness has festered in the morning routine: between my times of spoken and silent prayers, times of reading the Word aloud and times of reading it quietly, I am being formed and reformed.
This is why I care so deeply for morning devotional times. Through our active participation in sitting and savoring in the presence of Christ, we come to treasure the liturgy of silence and study that a morning devotional time affords. And these rhythms, carefully and religiously practiced, form us. They become a part of us.
I’ll be honest, there have been seasons of life in which I did not make this a priority. Sometimes, I argued with myself that I could have a quiet time in the evenings when it wasn’t so difficult. Other times, I justified that I was too tired and needed the extra sleep. In every season of argument or slef-justification, I have been made painstakingly aware that I desperately need to make time for a morning devotional.
Because we live in a busy, very loud world, and we desperately need to build silence into our day.
Take note of the sounds of your day, and notice the incumbent noise that follows you throughout. Listen for it, silence will not be found once you step out that front door and onto the sidewalk. Whether it is the chatter of co-workers, little ones, or the playlist streaming through your headphones, your day ahead will not be silent. And in the chatter of the little things, or the blaring of the train as it rolls in for our morning commute, keep our minds turned outward. There is something unearthing about silence, something about a quiet space that almost makes our ears ring and turns our attention to every little detail of our persons. In quiet spaces, we can force and deep breath and let the simmering thoughts, fears, emotions, memories, and words rise to the surface. And once we look them square in the eye, we can take them to our Lord. But silence will not find you today – you have to seek it out. We have to edit our lives meticulously, creating white space for our minds and hearts.
Because we live in an opinionated, influencing world, we desperately need to anchor ourselves on the truth.
Our world is a continuous conflict of opinion. Like one great big advertisement, messages, subtle or otherwise, press at us throughout our day. They insists on being heard, they get under our skin, into our heads, and, sometimes, they lodge in our hearts. In the day ahead you may hear more than a 10,000 propositions, opinions, influencing statements. Are you ready for that? Is your mind prepared to edit, analyze, and survey them all? Me either. And this is why we must, in the opening moments of our day, anchor ourselves to the Truth of God’s Word. We have the vital responsibility and ultimate privilege, of going to God in His Word, opening our hearts, and letting Him pour His truth into us. We have a source of truth literally at our fingertips, and each page speaks the truth about you, your body, your time, your value, your circumstances, your future. Rather than being carried along by the currents of culture, tie yourself to the Truth, and let Him anchor you throughout your day.
Because we are are people of formative habits, and need to intentionally choose a liturgy of silence and study.
Your habits form you. Like it or not, the rhythms that you have charted our for your day are curating you into the person you will be. Even while you are unaware, your morning routine is entrenching in you a way of being, of living, of thinking, of loving. This reality can be a bit scary, unless you have thoughtfully chosen your morning habits. By carving out an extra 30 minutes in the morning, you are practicing – literally, over and over – a liturgy of silence and study. You are embedding in your life physical reminders of Truth: by sitting in silence you remind yourself that you were made for more than chaos, by holding your Bible you remind yourself that our God came near so we could know him, by closing your eyes in prayer you remind yourself that there is another kingdom that we cannot yet see. And if you are going to be formed by your routine anyway, you might as well think well about it, choose it intentionally, and be formed by it.