I opened my eyes and it had happened again. My morning devotional turned into an extra 45 minutes sleep, which left me frantically running around trying to get ready for work.
And so the cycle of guilt continued. Morning “quiet times” have somehow become the unwritten 11th commandment: “Thou shall wake up at 6am for a morning devotional”. But what’s the point in them if I struggle to even keep my eyes open and mind engaged for more than 5 minutes?
In my mind, the guilt was fueled by the belief that in order to get myself right with God everyday, my morning quiet times were indisputable. I had believed that how my day would go hinged on whether or not I did my morning devotionals. If I had a bad day, it was because I hadn’t got on the right side of God that morning. If I had a good day, of course I had won God over through my morning bible reading and prayer. But that’s not the message of the bible or the reality of who God is. The truth is we have already been made right with God through the person and work of Jesus, who sacrificed Himself to pay for our sins.
The writer of Hebrews wrote that “It’s impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4) when describing the sacrificial law of the Old Testament. Bulls and goats seem foreign to us now, but if you replace that with “it’s impossible for your morning devotionals to take away sins”, it really hits home the point the writer is trying to make. Namely, my quiet times will not make me right with God, because by Christ’s one sacrifice on the cross, “He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Hebrews 10:14). That means whenever The Father looks at those who believe in Him, He sees His spotless, blameless child, made perfect by the blood of Jesus. And so Jesus removes the weight of guilt and self-justification off our shoulders, and tells us to come to Him and we will find rest for our souls (Matthew 11:29).
So then what’s the point in these morning devotionals? I think it’s not so much the time of day that’s of real importance, but the constant time; the everyday periods we spend with God, allowing him to mould our hearts. We are constantly being shaped from the moment we wake up. Our thoughts, our apps and our relationships tell us who we are, who we should be and what we should do. They shape us more than we know. But through spending time with God, He speaks to us through his scriptures and we respond through prayer. This flow of listening and speaking provides a way of knowing who God truly is, and allowing us to be vulnerable with him.
Morning devotionals are great as it gives the time over to God to shape our hearts, before anything else can. But sometimes mornings just don’t work for our schedules or chapter of life we are in. And that’s okay! I encourage us all to put aside pockets of time during the day to get to know God; to hear Him speak in His word and through prayer.
Jesus said “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never go hungry.” Let’s go to Him and feast!