For many of us, our days begin so fast, we jump out of bed already behind, and our time with the Lord may be the first thing to go undone. Martin Luther’s quote, “I have so much to do that if I didn’t spend at least three hours a day in prayer I would never get it all done,” feels like an impossibility. (Marva J. Dawn, Morning by Morning, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2001, 242.)
He must not have had small children and he certainly didn’t have my job, we think. And yet, he has a point. One of my mentors (who, by the way, did have small children and was working at the time) once told me, “If your schedule is so busy you don’t have time to spend 1-4 hours with Jesus every day, then something’s wrong with your schedule.”
That’s a lot of time. Why so much? Well, I don’t know about you, but I find there are a lot of ways I’m filled with myself rather than Christ. I need that time every day to listen to His heart and clean out my own, so my thoughts can become His thoughts and my ways His ways. Isaiah 55:6-9.
And because He alone knows the plans He has for me, I need to hand Him my day every day so I will do only what He is doing — not get distracted by other things that keep me too busy to obey — and so His Spirit will empower me to walk out in obedience. Galatians 5:25.
But if I choose to skip a few quiet times here and there, if I settle into a habit of making daily decisions leaning on my own understanding rather than listening to God’s, if I don’t daily clean out my heart and realign it with His, I will miss out on what I was created for—oneness with Christ. Proverbs 3:5-7, John 14:15-21, 15:7-8. And my choices may have eternal consequences.
That sounds drastic. And yet, I remember the days that eight came to Him, or three, or 28 or 50. I remember asking Him those mornings, “What are You doing today?” and then listening for His leadership and following Him there. And I also remember the days when the Lord stopped me from going out, and then brought needy believers to our home for prayer so He could set them free to walk in deeper depths with Him.
The truth is I need God. I can’t do this on my own. If I don’t walk in true fear of the Lord—loving Him so much I wouldn’t dare do things my own way—I’ll miss out on Jesus’ promise in John 14:12 (NKJV): “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do.”
“Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, for in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, for I lift up my soul to You.” Psalm 143:8 (NKJV)
“This is what the Lord says—your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. If only you had paid attention to My commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea.’” Isaiah 48:17-18 (NIVUK)