Early Morning Times With God - Legalism or Precious?
Ever since I was young, it has been drummed into me that it is a valuable spiritual discipline to get up early (preferably before the sun rises) and seek God. It used to be called a "quiet time" and then I became a charismatic and changed to "glory time". But I've been slightly bothered by the recent practice of putting a time on when one should get up. Why so? Because I don't see a time put down in the Word of God, and I am concerned that laying down a time will result in oh-so-easy legalism. If not for the ones who laid down the time, certainly for those who seek to emulate those particuar people.
I am trying to establish a tension here as always. I am fully appreciative of getting up early to seek God. A pastor friend and I have been rising between 5am to 6am every morning to pray for revival - and we text each other to stay away and encourage each other. C H Spurgeon said:
"Observe the eagerness implied in the time mentioned; he will not wait for noon or the cool eventide; he is up at cockcrowing to meet his God. Communion with God is so sweet that the chill of the morning is forgotten, and the luxury of the couch is despised. The morning is the time for dew and freshness, and the psalmist consecrates it to prayer and devout fellowship. The best of men have been betimes on their knees. The word early has not only the sense of early in the morning, but that of eagerness, immediateness. He who truly longs for God longs for him now. Holy desires are among the most powerful influences that stir our inner nature; hence the next sentence".
So what I am seeking to establish is, does the fault lie on those eager souls (and I have no doubt that their spirituality FAR exceeds my own) who lay down this time, or does it lie with us - the readers who so easily fall into legalistic practice because of that time? Let me give an example. I was once asked by an elder at my home church what time I got up in the morning. I told him that I got up at 5:30am which was true. Yet it wasn't to seek God - it was because I had an early morning paper round. He was very approving and quoted it to some of the other elders.
Surely it isn't the specific time that we get up - ie. 4am, 5am or 6am - but what we do with it. Or is there a kind of heroes board - the spiritual giants get up at 4am, the mediocre souls at 5am and the wandering souls at 6am? I really don't think that God is going to be particularly interested in the specific time on the Day of Judgement, rather did we use the time wisely. In fact it seems to me that by getting up earlier, we are actually MORE accountable to God for the time that He has given us so must be more careful with what we do with it!
Please understand me - I am not, not, NOT criticising the practice of getting up early to seek God. I do it - and I love it. But the particular time I get up is a private thing - agreed between me and God - and on special occasions, friend with whom I am accountable. But I am utterly persuaded that there is no use whatsoever in getting up early if we fritter away the time by drinking tea or coffee, reading the paper, watching the early morning news or whatever. The important thing about getting up early is the QUALITY of the time that we have gained for ourselves and how we use it to walk with the Spirit and grow in our relationship with Him.