Monday, September 26, 2011

The early hours

Ah, morning. The most significant hours of the day!
I dearly yearn to be one of those strange people that wake up at 5:00am and manage to be greatly productive in the early hours of the day. I don't imagine I'll ever become so disciplined, but I do wish that 7:00/7:30/8:0ooam wasn't such torture for myself. By nature, I'm a night owl. Thus, I shall always be. However, I'm sure I'll continue to complain about it for the rest of my life! ha! I'm constantly challenged by this spiritual discipline because of how difficult it is for me to adjust to the morning hours. Lately, I have had to recall a helpful passage by George Mueller concerning Scripture meditation and prayer. I remember the mark it left in my mind several years ago when I was first coming to learn of the Christian devotional life. Even still, I'm pressed by these words. Feasting upon God should not be a brief affair in the morning. Nor should it be dull or directionless! The challenge is to make this your ONE thing that you pour energy into and, yet, it also requires a patient dependence upon the Spirit to warm and humble your heart. Day by day by day by set to make this the one part of your life which will never alter or change in the importance or scheduling of it. Many have set first importance upon other things, but we, Christians, are different people. We are stranger and sojourners in this world. We set first importance to getting our souls satisfied in our Maker. We set first importance to the strength and richness of our souls! And this comes by way of careful meditation in the early hours of each day.

‎"Above all things see to it that your souls are happy in the Lord. Other things may press upon you, the Lord's work may even have urgent claims upon your attention, but I deliberately repeat, it is of supreme and paramount importance that you should seek above all things to have your souls truly happy in God Himself!..." ‎"...Day by day seek to make this the most important business of your life. This has been my firm and settled condition for the last five and thirty years. For the first four years after my conversion I knew not its vast importance, but now after much experience I specially commend this point to the notice of my younger brethren and sisters in Christ: the secret of all true effectual service is joy in God, having experimental acquaintance and fellowship with God Himself." "But in what way shall we attain to this settled happiness of soul? How shall we learn to enjoy God? How obtain such an all-sufficient soul-satisfying portion in him as shall enable us to let go the things of this world as vain and worthless in comparison? I answer, This happiness is to be obtained through the study of the Holy Scriptures. God has therein revealed Himself unto us in the face of Jesus Christ" "Now in brotherly love and affection I would give a few hints to my younger fellow-believers as to the way in which to keep up spiritual enjoyment. It is absolutely needful in order that happiness in the Lord may continue, that the Scriptures be regularly read. These are God's appointed means for the nourishment of the inner man. . . .Consider it, and ponder over it. . . . Especially we should read regularly through the Scriptures, consecutively, and not pick out here and there a chapter. If we do, we remain spiritual dwarfs. I tell you so affectionately. For the first four years after my conversion I made no progress, because I neglected the Bible. But when I regularly read on through the whole with reference to my own heart and soul, I directly made progress. Then my peace and joy continued more and more. Now I have been doing this for 47 years. I have read through the whole Bible about 100 times and I always find it fresh when I begin again. Thus my peace and joy have increased more and more." "I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the word of God, and to meditation on it. . . . What is the food of the inner man? Not prayer, but the word of God; and . . . not the simple reading of the word of God, so that it only passes through our minds, just as water runs through a pipe, but considering what we read, pondering over it, and applying it to our hearts." "... that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warned, reproved, instructed; and that thus, by means of the Word of God whilst meditating upon it, my heart might be brought into communion with the Lord... The first thing I did (early in the morning), after having asked in a few words the Lord's blessing upon his precious Word, was, to begin to meditate on the Word of God, searching, as it were into every verse to get blessing out of it; not for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon; but for the sake of obtaining food for my soul. The result I have found to be almost invariably this; that after a very few minutes my soul has been led to confession or to thanksgiving or to intercession or to supplication; so that though I did not as it were previously, give myself to prayer but to meditation yet it turned almost immediately more or less into prayer. The difference then between my former practice and my present one is this: Formerly when I arose I began to pray as soon as possible and generally spent all my time till breakfast in prayer or almost all the time... But what was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour or half an hour or even an hour on my knees before being conscious to myself of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc; and often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes or a quarter of an hour or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray. I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart being nourished by the Truth, being brought into true fellowship with God, I speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am, and unworthy of it!) about the things that He has brought before me in his precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point... (some years later he writes) I generally read after family prayer large portions of the Word of God when I still pursue my practice of reading onward in The Holy Scriptures, sometimes in the New Testament and sometimes in the Old and for more than thirty-nine years I have proved the Blessedness of it. I take also either then or at other parts of the day, time more especially for prayer." ~ George Mueller

Secondly, I have re-learned the significance of daily worship as a part of morning meditation and prayer. As A.W. Tozer puts it, "Without worship, we go about miserable." I feel as if this truth is addressed to me. With hearts bent to worry and doubting, worship is a NEED. I need eyes off of myself and life's problems. And worship is what enables me to focus upon my God on those days when my insides are racing and discontent.

It is delightful to worship God, but it is also a humbling thing; and the man who has not been humbled in the presence of God will never be a worshiper of God at all. ~ A.W. Tozer

The Psalms speak of these things as well. David continually raises his petitions, praises, and prayers by the morning light!

O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch. ~ Psalm 5:3

But I will sing of your strength; I will sing aloud of your steadfast love in the morning. ~ Psalm 59:16

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. ~ Psalm 90:14

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. ~ Psalm 143:8

Lord, renew these precious truths in me, day by day!

If I fail to spend two hours in prayer each morning, the devil gets the victory through the day. I have so much business I cannot get on without spending three hours daily in prayer. ~ Martin Luther

He who runs from God in the morning will scarcely find Him the rest of the day. ~ John Bunyan