“In the wee, small hours of the morning when the whole, wide world is fast asleep…”
The first words of this song (not the rest of it) come to mind as I think about the early hours of the morning when it’s just me wrapped up in a fluffy dressing gown with a hot cup of Ceylon tea and my Bible. The house is still. I sit by the light of a lamp on my own – no noise. I feel complete peace. The world is still asleep and so are my children.
I am not a morning person at all! I never have been and, in some respects, will never be. Yet, this time has come to be a much coveted and looked forward to half hour in my day or, if I’m lucky, even an hour. Some may think I’m crazy not to go back to bed after a 4 am feed or even worse, to wake up at 3, feed, go back to sleep for an hour and get up with an alarm at 5 am. It may seem like madness with a 12 week old baby, especially when I really am tired.
And yet, with bleary eyes, I drag myself out of bed. Why?
Well, on the Saturday before Mother’s Day, I had just been up for a 4 am feed. My baby went back to sleep and, after tucking her up in her crib, I suddenly thought that I would go back to the room lit by lamplight with a cup of tea to read my Bible and pray. What a special and much needed time it was! I felt refreshed, energised and so ready for what the day held. I soaked up the quiet. I prayed in full sentences – yes, I can’t string more than a sentence together in my head, let alone in words during the day. I read my Bible with more understanding – I had taken to reading at 3 am because it’s the only time I am reasonably uninterrupted. But, as you can imagine, my concentration isn’t at its best!
That hour on that Saturday, when everyone miraculously slept at the same time and everyone slept in (!!!), made me decide that it was worth some sacrificed sleep each day to not hit the ground running as soon as my eyes opened to a chirpy toddler or a niggling baby. Instead, by the time children woke, I would have been able to commit the day to the Lord, been fed by His Word, bask in the calm and feel His peace wash over me. Sounds amazing, right?!?
The trick is to not be upset or frustrated should this hour not happen but to consider it a delight if it does. With my first daughter, I was angry that it seemed that every time I crammed time in for God, my daughter would wake or fuss. This time around, I put less pressure on myself. If, like this morning, my daughter decides to dig in her dirty nappy and I spend the time cleaning up instead of finishing my reading, I have learnt to just roll with it and try to find another opportunity during the day. It might be at midnight that I get to read. It might be that I pray while I wash the dishes, shower, hang up washing or feed a baby. But at least, I’ve connected with the Lord.
First prize is obviously to be able to give my full attention to Him and to be able to declutter my head from all distraction. But even if this is not possible, I still get some sort of energy from praying and spending even ten minutes with Him each day.
My husband thinks I can be quite legalistic and superstitious as I feel that if I don’t start my day with a quiet time, the whole day becomes a mess. But, I have found that if I’m not in the right space mentally and if the day starts in frenetic chaos, my mood is panicked and anxious from the get-go.
I was told with my first baby that God understands new moms and that life is topsy-turvy. And, for a while, I let things slide. But then, as I mulled over those words, I realised that if we are serious about God, we would never tell Him to take a backseat. Sure, our expectations of what time with Him looks like may change. But, we don’t stop talking to our husbands when our baby arrives so how can we justify silence towards God? You may not have long, in depth conversations to your husband but you do at least offer a “I’ve had a long day, Babe!” kind of a comment. So why does God get treated differently? In my mind, we are playing into Satan’s hands when we put our relationship with God on the back burner. That’s exactly what the Destroyer seeks to do – separate us from God; drive a wedge between us and our Father. Our Father should be where we turn! He knows our hearts before we speak. He knows, and believe me, no one else does (!!!), what is going on in the mind of our tiny child. And He sees. We can tell our husbands about our day but they cannot penetrate to the secret thoughts of our hearts. They cannot rewind and watch every split second of the last 24 hours.
Our Father can.
And that’s exactly who He is and what it means for us. A relationship between a father and child. He is not some obscure entity millions of light years away. He’s not a big, booming voice with a huge white beard and lightening bolts clenched in His fist. He’s not a passive, disinterested and detached being. His life-blood pulses through our veins. His Spirit gives us life. He’s a parent. You know what that means, right? Think how your love for your child parallels His love for you.
A fierce, unconditional love burns in His heart for us. He would do anything for us. And He did. He did everything for us! He would die for us. He did! He sacrificed Himself for us and put us first.
And we behave like an angry toddler, a disinterested tween or a defiant adolescent and give Him the silent treatment because we are too stressed, too angry, too busy, too (fill in the blank). If and when our children turn their backs on us after all the things we’ve gone without to bless them, all the dreams we’ve tucked away, the endless forgiveness we’ve shown them, the sleep we’ve lost, the stress we’ve endured and the unconditional love we’ve given, we’d be hurt and desperate for any attention from them!
God is not asking for lengthy, intelligent, focused prayer. Nor is He asking for a “politically-correct” prayer. David in the Psalms doesn’t only praise God but he also gets frustrated with God and says that it feels as if he has been forgotten.
Vocabulary.com defines a relationship as,
“a state of connectedness between people (especially an emotional connection)”
A state of emotional connectedness. We are not asked to come with a list of needs or bullet points of thankfulness. God seeks to be emotionally connected to us. Connected – as in even the smallest interaction is staying connected. He is not grading us and bumping up our chances of getting to heaven depending on the fancy jargon we use or the length of time we spend with Him. Trust me, if I had to set aside an hour on my own everyday in order to spend time with God, our relationship would be non-existent in my current stage of life. I can’t even think in full sentences at the moment! My own thoughts interrupt me! What He wants is for us to connect with Him, not talk at Him. Connecting means to be comfortable to be who you really are – no hidden feelings, no false smiles, no forced politeness – we are to talk to Him as we would to our best friend. He wants us to voice our thoughts, offload, speak our mind and just talk to Him as easily as we would to our closest friend! And, how freeing to know that Jesus perfects our prayers before the Father! In other words, we can basically say anything on our hearts without reserve knowing that, for lack of a better phrase, it will be ‘filtered’ and perfected before God through Jesus. And, just in case you hadn’t already thought of this…God already knows what’s going on in your mind, so it’s not like you are holding back things He doesn’t already know about.
I have realised that something I lack in my relationship with the Lord is joy. And, if I had joy, I would long to sit down with His Word. I would be praying without ceasing. And I would be spilling over and sharing my joy in Him with others. And, if I am spent, tired, busy, stressed, drained and flat, it’s not exactly ideal to try and cultivate that joy inbetween the events of daily life (although it’s not outside the realm of possibility with God…). How much better to be able to drink in His Word, revel in His presence and commune with Him when I can give Him my full and undivided attention. That sounds like a better situation in which to cultivate joy! The only time for me when my girls aren’t playing tag on being awake, is the wee, small hours. I now long for the time to be on my own, to be able to think uniterrupted and pour out my heart before the Lord.
Is it easy? Absolutely not! My bed calls my name and swallows me when my alarm goes off. My eyelids are weighted with sleep. And, the chill of pre-winter air chases me further under the covers.
Once I do get up and sit down, it’s challenging to stay focused and not drift off into a land of complete thought processes – I have a diary on hand for brain-dumping. I find it hard not to repeat what I’ve just prayed for because I lose myself in my thoughts for ten minutes at a time. It’s not easy to just speak into a quiet room. I battle to do more than bring before God a long list of petitions and feel that I need to go through the pains of confession. It feels monotonous. I sometimes struggle to understand the text and find myself re-reading again and again. But, in the early hours, I find that all this happens a lot less frequently than if I had to sit down (or stand), flustered, during the day. And, I don’t yet have the urgency to busy myself with tasks around the house when the birds aren’t even chirping!
So, hence the quiet time while dawn breaks, is the best time for me to give the Lord reasonably undivided attention. It’s the best time to drink in the stillness. It’s the best to to whisper the secret longings of my heart, pour out the heaviness of the load I carry, clear my head of the clutter, lift up my family, prepare for the day and commit it to Him, concentrate on my sin, reflect and praise Him for the many blessings. It’s a time when I can genuinely ask Him without interruptions to resuscitate my heart calloused and deadened to Him by the distractions of the world and to beat His life-blood through my body again and fill me with the joy of His salvation.
“…You who God, may your hearts live!Bible, Bible reading, daily reading, God, Jesus, mom, mom blog, mom blogger mommy blogger, mom bloggers, mommy, mommy bloggers, mommyhood, morning, motherhood, prayer, quiet, quiet time