Imagine, every morning, getting the chance to start your day off with your favourite person. You get to talk to them, learn from them, eat with them, and laugh with them. You might even say that this is your best friend, perhaps a mentor, a role model. You bounce ideas off of them, they do the same with you, and your conversation flows back and forth with the familiarity of two old friends.
Wouldn’t that be beautiful?
It was pointed out to me some time ago that I had the opportunity to do that every morning. I thought about it and realized that it seemed like it would be a wonderful opportunity. I thought up big ideas of how my life could be different, how everything might change, how out of those opportunities I might become a much better person.
But did I follow up with that opportunity? No. Did I ever explicitly say that I wasn’t going to follow up? No, I didn’t do that, but I never made a commitment to change anything either. I never really got into the habit of sitting down with that person on a daily basis. In fact, I hardly ever did it. It happened maybe three times, and only when it was most convenient for me to be able to.
If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m not talking about a relationship with another person. I’m talking about the opportunity to sit down with the Word, and pray.
I’ve felt convicted at least five times in the last 3 years that the habit of morning prayer and devotion is something that I need to implement in my daily life. It’s come from all kinds of sources as well; speakers, books, personal study, prayer. All of those sources have told me that I need to be spending more time in the morning, praying and reading, and I’ve believed it. I believed it the whole time. I think that the idea of starting your day with the word is a beautiful proposition.
Yet here I am, without even having started
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. [Mark 1:35]
As you read the whole book of Mark, you find time and time again, Jesus leaves the crowds and retreats to the other side of the lake, or to the top of a mountain, or to another solitary place so that he can be alone.
I can’t imagine that during these times he just slept. I know for a fact that during his down time he didn’t go to the top of a mountain to play video games and eat too much pizza. I think during these times, he spent large portions of it in prayer. Jesus found his comfort through his Heavenly Father. He probably talked about his day, he prayed for his disciples, and he tried to figure out what he had just seen. He was a man after all. I imagine Jesus got scared of things. He probably got nervous in front of crowds. He probably was worried when he realized that religious leaders were pursuing him, trying to kill him.
So Jesus went and prayed.
This passage drives me crazy though, because if Jesus, the Son of God couldn’t even guide his way through the struggles that his daily life threw at him, what chance do I stand? Sure, I can get from day to day, but will I ever have the influence that Jesus had? No, obviously not. We’re in the year 2015 based solely on the fact that Jesus was born approximately 2015 years ago. That’s some serious influence. But do I believe that I could lead an amazing life even having the small fraction of excitement that Jesus’ life had? Yes. Do I believe it could be scary? Yes. Do I believe that I’ll need to be faithful in prayer, diligent in reading the Word, and careful to listen as God speaks? Yes.
But is that easy? No.
So for now, I’ve been blessed with a new beginning, a fresh start. I know that I have a perfect opportunity to change my morning routine. To start everyday right. To connect to the vine that is Jesus Christ. To realign my thoughts, my dreams, my goals, with the Maker of the Heavens.
It may not be easy to make these changes. Some mornings I’ll wake up very tired. Some mornings I’ll probably sleep in. Some mornings I’ll just be dumb and decide not to do it. Like any goal though, I believe that small steps have to be taken. I can’t expect to be able to spend four hours in prayer every morning. So for now I set realistic goals.
And as I close the page on this entry, I want to leave it with one of my all-time favourite quotes. It comes from a Scottish minister named Robert Murray M’Cheyne. He proposes the idea that it’s not fair to those around him if he doesn’t spend his morning in prayer.
The more I dwell on this quote, the more I believe it. I’m excited to try to finally put it into practice.
“I ought to pray before seeing any one. Often when I sleep long, or meet with others early, it is eleven or twelve o’clock before I begin secret prayer. This is a wretched system. It is unscriptural… and I can do no good to those who come to seek from me. The conscience feels guilty, the soul unfed, the lamp not trimmed. Then when in secret prayer the soul is often out of tune, I feel it is far better to begin with God—to see his face first, to get my soul near him before it is near another.”