As a mother of five children ranging in age from 9 down to 2, I never get enough sleep. Lately, my charming 2-year-old has taken to visiting me at 3:30 in the morning. If I’m lucky, she goes right to sleep, and I transport her to another sleeping surface. If I’m not lucky, she kicks me for an hour or (this is a new special thing she does) pinches my nose and pulls on my ear until I lose it.
Sleep is a precious commodity, but so is my quiet time each morning before said 2-year-old and the rest of the gang tumble out of their rooms to loudly greet the day. When I had tiny babies, every moment of sleep was absolutely necessary, but now that my children are a little older, my relationship with God needs to come first for me to even hope to love my family the way I should.
The gospel of Mark recounts an example of how important Jesus, the Son of God, viewed his time with his Father. Let me set the stage: In the two months leading up to this event, Jesus had been baptized, fasted for 40 days, been tempted by Satan, watched his cousin John be thrown in prison, and had begun his ministry through teaching and healing.
Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.
Jesus was probably exhausted. He was probably hungry. After his busy day of preaching and healing, he probably would have loved to wake up and been served breakfast in bed by his hostess, Peter’s mother-in-law whom he had miraculously healed the previous day. However, he didn’t wake up and groggily “pray” between dreams while laying in bed. He got up while it was dark and left the house. He went to an “isolated place.” In the Greek language, that’s the same word used to describe the wilderness he entered to be tempted. He physically removed himself from all distraction to give God the first and best part of his day. If God’s Son needs this time, how much more do we need it?
So what could this look like in your day? Personally, on a perfect day, I’ll have a good 60 minutes before I have to engage with the rest of the world. I begin by reading Scripture (currently, I’m working through a Bible study on the book of John), and then I like to journal a little and pray. I have a couple other books I engage with, and when I’m finished with that, I’ll send a short message to a dear friend or scroll through Facebook for a few minutes before getting everyone breakfast.
What does it actually look like? Sometimes I do get my hour, but often it looks like reading a Psalm or Proverb and praying before I open my computer. Sometimes, my toddler is sitting on my lap trying to steal my pens while I’m writing. Sometimes, my 4-year-old is trying to dazzle me with her newly acquired balancing skills. Usually, it’s not pretty or peaceful, but the act of offering my first to God helps me frame my perspective on the day.
By humbly inviting God into my chaos, I find that I can draw on his strength when I find the girls giving their toys a bath in the toilet. You don’t need to have an elaborate Bible study that takes you through the original Greek version with a massive concordance out on the table—there is a place for that—but God will meet you right where you are if you invite him.
What is the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? How can you change that habit to allow God to have the first and best of your day?
Ask God for the strength and discipline to offer your first moments to him and to help you see how time spent with him is never wasted and always blesses.
This week, make it a point to get out of bed, engage with the Bible, and say a short prayer before turning on your phone or computer to see what the world has to offer, you. Start small by giving God five minutes. As this becomes a habit, you will want more.
21 Days of Prayer:
Day 9 Focus – To Surrender to Him (Romans 12:1)
Heavenly Father, thank you for all you have given me: all the time, resources, relationships, and abilities. I now give them back to you. I surrender it all. I am only a steward—it all belongs to you. God, guide my actions. Teach me to use what you have given me according to your will. Help me to listen for and obey your directions. May your will be done in me and through me.
This post was written by Julie Mabus. Julie has a passion for thinking about big ideas, art, reading, and seeing God reveal himself through creation. She is married and is homeschooling her five young children.
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