Thursday, July 3, 2008

Day Thirty Two: Breakfast of Champions

I've been reading an interesting book this week that's re-igniting my prayers. It's not that I haven't been praying all this time--I have. But they've been mostly "wandering through my day mumbling to God when I think of it" prayers, rather than "sit down and have a real conversation" prayers. For some strange reason, I was finding God difficult to talk to, as if he were a complete stranger I knew nothing about and didn't have the energy to engage. I hadn't realized how disconnected I was until I started flipping through these pages. Now, I'm starting to feel like me again.

The book, Principles of Prayer by Billy Joe Daugherty, is pretty "churchy." It's filled with Christian lingo that sounds strange to my New England ears. But the substance is SO inspiring, it's been worth the effort to translate. I thought I'd share a bit of it here.

One chapter that made me laugh (and then made me think) is called "Prayer: Breakfast of Champions." It offers nine reasons why we should make time first thing in the morning to talk to God:

1. Jesus did it. This is a powerful argument in favor of getting up a little earlier, given that he healed the sick and raised the dead. Who wouldn't exchange a half-hour of sleep each day to see those kinds of answers to prayer???

2. The way you start something has great effect on the way it ends up. This got me thinking. Looking back, I can see that the relationships I started under shady circumstances--one or both of us dating other people, or feeling like I needed to sneak around to see someone--ended badly, disasterously, or (in one unfortunate instance) in a divorce where I lived in hiding for three years. But when we start something well--with prayer, integrity, honesty, hope--it sets a direction for how things will go. What if this is true for every day of our lives? Again, worth the sacrifice of sleep.

3. When you pray early in your day, you'll get an attitude adjustment. This is a take on the adage, "your attitude determines your altitude." If reason #2 is about setting ourselves on a straight course for the life we want, #3 is about getting the God's attitude about what is possible and what we're facing so that we can fly above the bumps and pitfalls in front of us.

4. If we pray in the morning, we don't have to worry about the many interruptions that come every day. Have you noticed that days rarely go exactly as planned? Things come up, appointments change, we get phone calls from friends we've been missing for months...if we pray in the morning, asking God to direct our steps and order our priorities, we don't have to worry about leaving him out of our day--he's already been invited in.

5. When we are hungry for fellowship with God, we will take time for early morning prayer. I wasn't sure how this was a reason, but as I read on, Daugherty makes a good point: we make time for the people who are important to us. Imagine a husband saying to his wife: "Honey, I love you, and I think about you all day long. But I don't have time to sit down and talk with you--I'm really busy. You understand, right?" Not exactly the stuff happily ever after is made of. If we want a relationship with God, and all the benefits that entails, then he has to be more important to us than the things we'd have to move aside to spend real time with him (and I am SO busted on this, given that I thought God would be fine if I blogged first thing in the morning--talking to you guys about him--instead of talking to him...ACK!)

6. Just as you would fill your gas tank before you start out on a trip, you need to fill your mind with God's Word and prayer before you start your day. Life demands a lot of us. When we start out with God in the morning, it accomplishes two things: it fills us up and gives us something to invest in the challenges ahead (as Daugherty points out, we can only go so long with our exports exceeding our imports), and it wins spiritual battles that are to come. This seems worth the half hour.

7. In Exodus 16, the Lord told the children of Israel to get their manna before the sun got hot on the ground. Manna is living bread--Jesus. For us, this exhortation is to get a fresh word from God every day before we set out. When we do, it feeds us in a way that provides supernatural nourishment all day long. I'm not aware of exactly how or when my body uses the vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc. that are listed on my box of cereal, but that doesn't mean I'm not drawing on them as I go about my day. I think morning talks with God work much the same way, sustaining us for the hours to come.

8. When we start our time of prayer with praise to the Lord, we will receive revelation, instruction, inspiration, strength, peace, deliverance from temptation, refreshing, and restoration. Who wouldn't want that? My new plan is to start every day with, "God, you rock!"

9. Giving God the first part of our day is a spiritual law of giving the firstfruits. There are promises in the Bible that when we give God the best part of something--our time, attention, money, talents--he multiplies it back to us. I've seen this happen with both time (when I was WAY to busy to spend time reading the Bible or to go to my small group, but sucked it up and went anyway) and money (where things felt super-tight, budget wise, but we stuck to our commitment to tithe). I've never once regretted it, and I've been amazed at how when I put God first, suddenly I have plenty of time to get everything done, and more money that I would have had if we hadn't tithed. It's bizarre, in a rather wonderful way. Sort of a supernatural reminder that when we align ourselves with Jesus, we're tapping into a life that operates on different principles. New things are possible.

Interesting stuff, huh? Let me know what you think.
I have an extra copy of this book, which I'd love to pass along. Leave a comment today and I'll draw one name and mail it out.

Today's reading: Acts 17. The adventure continues.

Today's song: Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns.
The waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I've tried before and failed
The waves the keep on telling me, time and time again, "Boy, you'll never win"
But the Voice of truth tells me a different story...

God has amazing things to say to each of us. Let's take time to ask what they are :)


Liza said...

This subject was so perfect for me today. I didn't go to church for many years during and following college. I didn't tithe or really spend much time talking to God. In the last 3 years I've found a wonderful church, help teach a class, and tithe from every single paycheck. I've had lots of trouble with money in the past. Once I started back with my tithe faithfully, God has made sure my money worries completely went away.

Since we started the 40 Days of Faith, I've been praying first thing every morning. I've had a much better outlook each day and totally agree that starting my day with God helps me the rest of the day.

ForstRose said...

Wow so many goodies packed into today's post and the chapter in Acts. I love that the song talks about the Voice of truth with a capital V as if it were a proper name.

Anyway I especially was impressed by the last part of verse 11 where it talks about the Bereans diligently searching scriptre daily to see if what Paul and Silas were telling them was true. Also vs 27&28 talking about seeking the Lord with the hope of finding Him even though He is never far from any of us and in Him we live and move and have our being and are also His offspring.

I love the idea of choosing our direction by how we start something, inviting God in from the outset and getting an attitude adjustment when we do and putting God first does make a huge difference in how things "organize" in my life.

I recently made the commitment to start tithing again, I had been only doing it sporadically because the income was only enough for rent and other bills were getting set aside between assignments where I was getting paid until I had a few extra dollars. Since I started that again the assignment I was on tripled in length which meant that much more money at the time. Now I just have to keep up with things as best I can and trust that as he has done before God will provide even if it is at the very last second. When I am faithful to Him, His faithfulness to me through unexpected blessings is multiplied but when I leave Him out what is there doesn't go nearly as far as planned or expected.

This is also a good reminder that relationships with anyone are a two-way street not a one way dead-end. We must invest in them but when both parties invest in the relationship they receive more than they give out.


Patti said...

my habit is to pray in the morning and while running, which these days is getting longer and longer. i can attest to its value.

the teacher said...

i really enjoyed today's post. i pray, journal, and read the bible at night. many, MANY nights i am exhausted and feel like i am halfway talking to God or that it is a chore. if you were to make a list of pros and cons for praying in the morning, there would only be 1 con: i want to get more sleep. it is a pretty ridiculous and selfish reason when it stands up against all of those great ideas and reasons you listed. i am pretty sure instead of answering "ehh" when people ask how i am in the morning at work, i can say "great!". :)

heiress said...

Todays post was exactly what I needed to hear. I use to pray every morning in my car on my way to work, I would cut off the radio and just talk to God. But since I have been out of work recently I realized after reading this post that i had stopped talking to God early in the morning. This was a huge wake-up call for me and I will definitely put God as my priority first thing in the morning.

Stephanie said...

It may sound weird but I pray in the shower. It's when I really begin to wake up so it's the perfect time. Plus no distractions.

Larramie said...

If Stephanie is "weird" then so am I!

Sarakastic said...

I need to start doing this maybe it will help me hate morning less.