“Satisfy us in the morning with your faithful love so that we may shout with joy and be glad all our days.”
— Psalm 90:14
A couple of years ago I began the habit of reading my Bible first thing in the morning. I know, I know—this does not seem revolutionary to many Christians. Plenty of people have their quiet time in the morning. But it was revolutionary to me, because what I mean is that I read the Bible literally first thing in the morning. Before I sit up. Before I put my feet on the floor. Before I’m even fully awake.
Okay, I guess technically, the literal first thing I do is turn off my alarm. But I had been convicted that I was starting my days with the mundane routines of life and not with God’s Word. I have never really struggled to study my Bible. It has come more “naturally” to me than prayer all my Christian life. But without beginning with God’s Word, I was struck by how flooded I am with self-talk and a sense of self-sovereignty during my morning routines.
In the past, after I turned off my alarm and before I got out of bed, I would open my email and look at my calendar. I was instantly in a mode of thinking of obligations and appointments. I would open up social media to see what everybody else had been saying and doing while I was sleeping, filling my mind with everybody else’s thoughts. I began the day thinking it belonged to me. Aside from how anxious this was unwittingly making me, it is also a self-focused way to begin. Starting my day listening to myself and to others was taking its spiritual toll.
Deeper and more thoughtful study of God’s Word still comes for me later in the day, when I’m more awake. But I have benefited in multiple ways from turning off my alarm and immediately opening up my Bible app. Before I get up, before I brush my teeth, before I shower, before I get dressed, before I stop by Starbucks, before I get to work, before I’ve begun believing my day is run in my own power. Before I do anything else, I want to hear from God.
Sometimes it takes a bit for my sight to adjust, but there, through my boogered eyes and before my heavy brain, is a window into the other world that reorients my heart before it can get too far astray.
I don’t read a whole lot. I tend to graze. I pick books and passages mostly at random, though sometimes according to a particular need I feel or a subject I think pressing. Morning by morning, I tend to alternate between Old and New Testaments. But the important thing is that the first voice I hear in the morning is the Lord’s. I read just long enough to have my heart warmed by his presence with me and his pleasure in me. I get a sense of settledness in his declarations and his priorities. This is just a simple and direct way to make sure I wake up into the sufficiency of Christ, into the reminder that his finished work is the grounding and fuel for my own.
And then, when I’ve been wakened by the word, I sit up, put my feet on the floor, stretch, and stand. It’s a reminder everyday that only in him do I live and move and have my very being (Acts 17:28). To read before I rise is a daily enacting, in fact, of the resurrecting power of God’s Word. Through this practice, my whole day is better positioned as a response to his call.
Maybe you want to try it. What better start could there be to your day than to fill your first waking moments with the voice of the holy One who made you and loves you?