The Daily Quiet Time: Is Morning Truly Best?

Sandra Glahn's picture

 

Back when I was a teen, I heard over and over that I needed to have a private daily time of Bible reading and prayer, and if I failed to have this “quiet time” in the morning, I was living all day in my own strength.

Our Aussie friend heard the same emphasis on a morning quiet time when he was growing up, as well as later, when he enrolled in a US discipleship program. Both of us, while in Bible college in opposite parts of the world, heard this idea emphasized. Not only did Christians need time with God, we were told, but it had to involve Bible reading and prayer. And we needed to have it first thing in the morning. 

Consequently, I did develop a habit of morning prayer and Bible reading. It didn’t seem to matter that I did my best thinking at 7 p.m. I certainly didn’t want to live my life in my own strength. 

A key verse quoted to validate having a morning quiet time was Genesis 19:27, which says, “Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the LORD.” Abraham, it was argued, demonstrated this essential practice of morning worship. Only years later did I notice that little word “had” in “had stood.” Turns out, it refers back to where Abraham had stood when interceding for Sodom.  So the point was not that Abraham had a regular time and place for morning worship. It was that Abraham returned to the place where he and God had previously had a conversation about Sodom and Gomorrah, only this time he stood there to watch what God would do to these cities (18:22). 

Another scripture quoted to support the necessity of a morning prayer time was Mark 1:35, which says, “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.” If I wanted to be like Jesus, I was told, I needed to get up early to pray. 

But here’s the deal. In emphasizing the morning, we were overlooking some other key scriptures. Notice the time of day in Matthew 14:23: “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone.” Looks to me like Jesus’ prayer time in this instance happened in the middle of the afternoon, continuing until evening.   

And notice the time of day in this passage: “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God” (Luke 6:13). Night. Right? This brings to mind Psalm 119:148, which says, “My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.”

If we think about time from a biblical perspective, beginning in Genesis we see that the day begins in the evening. While Westerners especially think of our days as starting when the sun rises, God’s people for most centuries have thought of days beginning when the sun goes down. Remember creation? “And there was evening and there was morning—the first day. Evening and morning, the second day. Evening and morning, the third day.” And on it goes.

Some of us need to lose the legalism about when exactly the “best” time with God must happen. Rather, we should simply encourage the practice of spending time with him. Any time. Luke tells us that “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (5:16) and later Luke says that Jesus customarily went up to the Mount of Olives, presumably to pray (22:39–41). The important thing is “often” and “customarily.” We see him praying in “lonely places,” and in public (Luke 3:21; 10:17–22), and  in private with people nearby (9:18). We also see Jesus praying on a mountain with two disciples (9:28–29), and we even find him praying from the cross (23:33–34, 46). He showed us what it’s like to pray anytime and anyplace, while taking extended private times on a regular basis. 

The important thing is not that we check "devotions" off our to-do list. It's that God wants us to draw near to him, and if we do so, he promises to draw near to us (Jas. 4:8). He invites us to come regularly. Frequently. But not necessarily for thirty minutes at zero dark-thirty. 

Comments

Sue Bohlin's picture

THANK YOU Sandi! Such good stuff! May the chains fall off today as people give themselves permission to spend time communing with our God regardless of what the clock says.

Amen, preach it sister :) Thanks for this reminder and the good thinking behind it. God is a lot more disappointed when I have no quiet time than when I have it in the evening. And I also think it is important to remember that we can pray and read His word in lots of places (though having a regular place is a good goal). Again, the communing is the key!

The bible says pray without season, morning, afternoon or evening what matters to GOd is our relationship with Him. one of those things we should note is our commitment to the things of God, His word and our pray life.

Sandra Glahn's picture

Thanks for your encouragement, Sue and Nancy. 

Ya notice...I mentioned only Jesus's prayer times. I said nothing about His reading the Word. That's because to  my knowledge he did so only in the synagogue. He would not have had a scroll at home.

Only for the past five hundred fifty years or so have we had moveable type, and thus Bibles in our homes. And many across the world still don't have personal Bibles. So again, we do need to read them if we have them. But we also need to be clear that there is no command for the believer to read the Bible every day. Rather, we are to long for the Word as newborns long for milk. The application of HOW that works itself out needs to have some grace-full flexibility. 

Thank you Sandra, for you very interesting reflections about not being very dogmatic about the times of the day one should pray. 
 
Though by and large most Christian do take time to start the day that way. Some might find other times better. However, wouldn’t it be great for us all, to graduate, even further, and start  'Practicing the Presence of God' at all times. Like the well known Franciscan brother, ‘Lawrence’ - who though he was mostly assigned to the washing of kettles and pots in his monastery, had mastered the ‘practicing of the presence of God’ at all times! And thus touched many peoples lives in his life time. A book by the same title, has sold millions of copies. He never wrote it, but was put together by the editor, who gathered the letters Lawrence  wrote to his friends and well-wishers. One can  find in that booklet, Lawrences’ deep wisdom, knowledge and understanding  -  which were a direct  result of his  ‘practicing the Presence of God’ at all times.
 
On the other hand, while I agree with you, that those in the earlier centuries did not own bibles and could not therefore follow the practice of reading the Word every day – and may did progress well in their walk with the Lord - would it be wise to conclude that today, when the Word is so easily available to everyone, - Christians may not consider reading it every day or as often as they can?  
 
To whom much is given, much is expected. Our brethren of the ancient days will be measured differently than those today. Many requirements in the scripture were added progressively as more was given them by the Lord, over time. Once these were known, and available – we find the Lord making those, obligatory, later on. 
 
We are living in times of great deceit,  than in the early days.  - Laws in most nations, once, had the Christian moral laws weaved into them. Not so in our age -  where the nations are changing them at their own wicked whims. How about the  definition of marriage: Man 'marries'  another man?
 
How will men of this age, who seek the truth in their hearts, know the difference? The Lord who is always a step further that the enemy and his deceitful plans,  has not left man without a means to allay that challenge.  He has made His laws and decrees,  available to all, through the technology of the printed word, “…that all might have the knowledge of the truth and be saved!  Lest “For lack of knowledge my people perish.” Hoshea
 
Thank you once again for your opening our minds on not being legalistic about the times when one chooses to pray but rather 
The Lord bless and keep you!
 
Fernando

Thank you for this Sandra! I'm a total night owl at heart. My brain is more awake at 9PM than 9AM. I remember as a teenager trying to get up extra early so I could pray & have Bible time. What always happened was either I slept through it or I was so tired I was barely awake to remember anything. I even did that long into my adult years. Then I began to realize what you said here, I just lacked the scripture to prove it. I realized God just wanted to spend time with me, what time of day wasn't so important. He's rather have an alert version of myself who He can really speak to than the one looking for more coffee! I do know for me that I do need at least a short prayer time & maybe a quick "refresher" each morning. What I usually do is bookmark what I read the night before, or write a note of it. That way, in the morning I'm reminded of what I read the night before and feel focused. Thank you for taking away another layer of legalism from us all!

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