Are you an early riser? I used to be a night owl...staying up late to read or simply relax at the end of a long day. Around the time my sons entered middle school and had to be up early to get to school on time, I began to change my habits. I began to like getting up early to have a few moments by myself before everyone else woke up. I love the quiet, the dark...hearing the birds begin to chirp and seeing the dawn arise. And, even in western Washington, you can catch the most amazing sunrises! (The one in the picture above came from Red Cedar Lake, Wisconsin however).
The early morning has become my time to quiet my soul and connect with my creator. My morning routine is pretty simple. Once I'm awake, often around 5 a.m. or so, I click the "brew" button on my coffee maker, grab that first cup of coffee, turn on the lamp, and settle into my chair with a devotional book and my Bible. I have often been amazed at how many times a scripture reference and devotional hit the spot and meet me exactly where I'm at that day!
I've enjoyed a number of different devotional books over the past few years. A mainstay has always been Our Daily Bread, a monthly devotional booklet published by RBC Ministries that our church gives out. This devotional can also be accessed online. The devotionals are written by a select group of authors, always based on passage of scripture. Each devotional reading also includes a Read through the Bible in a year reference guide.
A friend gave me Jesus Calling, by Sarah Young, several years ago. This devotional book contains excerpts that the author says God communicated to her, based on scripture...she "listened with pen in hand." She states, "The devotions in this book are meant to be read slowly, preferably in a quiet place, with your Bible open." This book is a great gift for someone who is searching or a new believer.
Two very similar devotional books I've enjoyed are Take My Heart, Oh God, Riches from the Greatest Christian Women Writers of all Time and Every Day with Jesus, Treasures from the Greatest Christian Writers of all Time. If you are anything like me, and find inspiration from quotes by well known believers, these are good devotionals to read. Both follow a similar format by using a quote, than a devotional writing that explores the quotation, followed by a Bible reference and a seed prayer.
Another oldy but goody, is Streams in the Desert, by L.B. Cowman. Though the language used in this devotional can be quaint and a little old school, it is still amazingly relevant. Cowman always begins each reading with a Bible verse, and follows with a devotional writing that often quotes great Christian authors or hymn writers. I find encouragement even in knowing that my mom and dad used this devotional guide years ago.
Lastly, I have found encouragement from One Thousand Gifts Devotional by Ann Voskamp. Her devotionals are essentially excerpts from her book with the same title, but the devotional guide includes a Bible passage at the beginning and prayer starter at the end, with space (and lines) to journal your own thoughts or prayers. Her writing is always focused on giving thanks in all circumstances.
I hope you will consider making the effort to get up, even 15 to 20 minutes earlier, to spend a little time with God. You will be amazed at how He meets you there and helps you face the day with renewed energy and strength and hope. Even Jesus himself met His Father early in the morning, as it says in Mark 1:35, "And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed." How can we go wrong following his example, right? And, besides the benefits described above, you may be treated by a brilliant sunrise...which for us western Washingtonians is always a real gift!