I love sleeping. I think if we’re honest everybody loves that feeling of curling up in bed, nice and warm and just drifting off to sleep. Unfortunately I probably love sleeping a bit too much, and recently I’ve been challenged by a number of different parts of scripture. All of which are telling me to get out of bed and start my day with prayer, bible study and thanksgiving. ‘That sounds like a great idea!’ you think, ‘starting my day with prayer and spending time studying Gods word, what an excellent way to start off my day!’ Unfortunately to enable myself to do that it involves getting out of bed half an hour earlier and apparently, even though my brain likes the idea, my body likes it a lot less.
Some people might say, well it doesn’t really matter what time of day you study your bible or pray, as long as you do it, then it’s fine. That may be true but for me the bible has some fairly definite ideas about when it is the best time to do these things.
In Mark 1:35-36 it 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.36 Simon and his companions went to look for him’ Jesus sneaks off so early in the morning to pray that His disciples don’t even know where he’s gone and have to physically search Him out. In Luke 5:15-16 we see that ‘the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their illnesses.16 But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.’ Jesus fame is spreading and He and His followers are seeing miraculous thing happen but still Jesus feels the need to find a solitary place to pray. In the hectic-ness of modern life the only moment of solitude many of us will find is first thing in the morning with our bedroom door firmly shut. Psalm 119:147-148 says ‘I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope in your word. 148 My eyes stay open through the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promises.’ I think this portrays beautifully the urgency that psalmist feels, and the fact that it doesn’t make getting up early or even praying through the night sound easy, but it does sound like the psalmist feels it is necessary.
I’m not saying that we should forgo sleep in order that we pray and read the bible more; however what I do think is that I, especially, need to get better at is self control. If I went to bed at a reasonable time whenever possible how much easier would it be for me to get up just half an hour earlier each morning. If we look at 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27 Paul says ‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 25 Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.’ Paul is saying here that we need to discipline ourselves so that we are able to live our lives more effectively for Jesus. If I’m struggling to get up in the morning, maybe I need to enforce a bed time on myself. If I’m struggling to read the bible every day because I get distracted or bored maybe I need to ask someone to keep me accountable.
If we work out where our weaknesses are then we can be intentional about overcoming them and in doing so we can start living our lives that bit more effectively for Gods Kingdom.
Michael is a 'Forgee' and is on the Student team at St Michael le Belfrey. He has spent the past two years working for Riding Lights Theatre Company!