Wednesday, June 19, 2013

My Experience with Morning Quiet Time with God, and Why it's Not Always the Best Plan...

Champagne Castle by Slack12.

I won't deny that Jesus gives us an excellent example (well He always does, but specific to this post) in Mark 1:35, "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." I have read it over and over again suggested in many Bible studies and devotionals that a Christian should wake up early and spend time with God in His Word. I'm not going to say that's a bad idea, because it is excellent to get our thoughts on God first thing in the morning. But, I want to encourage Christians to take heart if morning quiet time is just not feasible at this season in their lives; God just might have other plans for you...

My experience with morning quiet time...

I really really wanted to wake up bright and early in the mornings and spend quiet time with God, but it wasn't working out for me. An obstacle was that I have a toddler who is an early riser and the moment anyone else is awake in the house, so it she. This meant that I would either have to wake up at 4 am or spend time with God in the evenings after she went to bed. Another obstacle was that I just couldn't seem to get myself out of bed before 8 am and couldn't seem to get to sleep before midnight - so waking up at 4 am was absolutely out of the question. And yet another obstacle was the difference in the state of my mind in the morning and at night - somehow, for some reason I couldn't fathom, I was having an easier time opening myself up to scripture and concentrating on studies at night than I was in the morning. 

I decided to go with the flow of my body and spend my study time with God at night after my family was asleep and the house was still and quiet. But, I have to admit, I felt guilty because I wasn't doing it "right". Sure, I was spending time with God and that's what is important (and was having a grand time doing it, too), but certainly there had to be a purpose to why everyone pushed for morning time. Was I missing out on some great blessing because I couldn't seem to get myself out of bed early enough?

At this same time, I was having horrible problems with feeling very vulnerable at night before bed. It was common for me to think very depressing and self-depreciating thoughts, hold arguments with my husband, generate storms of paranoia and worry, and pick apart my own self-esteem. The enemy of my soul seemed to be having a grand time taking advantage of me in my weakened state and it took all my energy every day to piece things back together after each terrible night. Of course, this had been rather commonplace for me since I was a teenager and was feeling the full force of my mother's emotional abuse, so I assumed it was the way life had to be and thought nothing of it.

I used the nights for my time with God for over ten weeks, and in that time I began to set up a habit. I got used to thinking about God before bed and holding a bit of an open prayer with Him as I feel asleep after my study time. The study time at night made it easier for me to keep Him in my thoughts because it was the last thing I did before bed. Some nights I still had a difficult time. But instead of giving in to the negative thoughts, I found myself either pleading for God's help, reciting scripture, or simply telling myself over and over in my head, "God loves me, no matter what!" The more I kept up with this habit, the easier my nights became, and the easier it was for me to wake up earlier in the morning!

When I looked back on events, I realized that having my quiet time at night was exactly what God wanted! He used that time to fortify my nights and helped me to greet the day easier. I realized that maybe there was a reason why I was facing so much resistance to waking early, and it solidified the idea that meeting God exactly where I am is the best plan.

I hope that anyone who reads this can take heart in knowing that you're not "wrong" or "bad" if waking in the morning and spending time with God just doesn't fit. Sure, it's a nice ideal to strive for, but maybe God has other plans for you right now. Maybe there is something in your life that can be healed through night, evening, or afternoon quiet time. Don't do like I did and feel guilty because you're not fitting some standard that other Christians have established. Follow God. ;)

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