There’s something about the morning. I can’t say I’m always a morning person. I’ve certainly had countless late nights and enjoyed many a sleep in but lately, I’ve discovered the beauty of early morning. Mark 1:35 says of Jesus, “Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.” This is just one glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. The day before, just after the sun had set, Jesus had healed many people. Now, the next morning, He chose to rise early and meet with His Heavenly Father, not leaving until His disciples found Him. Then, Jesus went with them and continued to heal people and preach the gospel. With crowds of people demanding His attention, and “ministry” to attend to, Jesus still found time and space to be alone with His Father. Perhaps this was the secret of His tireless zeal and persevering strength.
A Glimpse of the Creator
It’s now winter, and the sun tends to snooze for just a little longer each morning. Reluctantly, it yawns and stretches out its warm rays from behind the cover of the horizon. Ward rounds on surgery start at 7:30 in the morning so as I walk from my house to the bus stop to catch the bus, the sun is only just beginning to rise. It’s never the same outside. Every morning, there’s a slightly different hue, a slightly different pattern, and a slightly different look to the lightening sky. Initially, I thought I would dislike the chilly walks and waiting times at the bus stop, but interestingly, I’ve come to enjoy them even more than the warm, smooth car rides I’ve had to other hospital rotations. Phil Wickham’s song “You’re Beautiful” captures some of my thoughts as I walk to the bus stop each morning:
“I see your face in every sunrise
The colours of the morning are inside Your eyes
The world awakens in the light of the day
I look up to the sky and say
It’s still and quiet in the morning, with perhaps a gentle breeze, the occasional burst of light and tires from a passing car and the beginning choruses of waking birds. I’m not the only one awake. Some people are already active; jogging and cycling. Occasionally, a friend appears at the same bus stop to travel with me; always a nice surprise. I spend my time gazing at the slowly fading stars, and the streamer-like colours of sunrise sweeping more blue into the black. I notice how the single illuminated window stands out, and I remember God’s word. Isaiah 40:12 –
“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand,
Measured heaven with a span
And calculated the dust of the earth in a measure?
Weighed the mountains in scales
And the hills in a balance.”
Surely this is the God who made all things and called them all “good”. Surely this is the God by whom all things were created and for whom they exist [Colossians 1:16, Revelation 4:11]. This is my morning glimpse – a glimpse of the Creator.
“Thank you Lord for the beauty of Your creation; that mirrors Your own beauty and speaks of Your eternity. Truly You are before all things and have all authority and glory on this earth. I know you are coming again, and I look forward to the day when all things on earth are fully restored. Show me, Lord, Your face in all Your creation. Let me understand more of Your heart, more of Your character. Lord, I declare that the works of Your hands are good, that You are creator God, and that all things find their purpose in You. I will declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness every night for You are worthy of this and have lavished Your grace upon me even in my weakness.”
Why the Morning?
Night is different. It is a time of perseverance. At night, I may read and study God’s word, ask Him for His thoughts and write down His revelation. I might rest in His presence and dream of Him, but it is not the same as my waking up in the morning with God. I sleep in God’s peace and I wake up in His wonder. Having adjusted my sleep cycle to an earlier waking time, I’ve found myself refreshed in the morning and curious about the Lord. It’s a new day, and I’m excited to partner with my Lord as He carries out His plans.
“What’s on Your mind, Lord? What are You thinking? What are You doing today?”
At night, I wind down from all the day’s busyness, but in the morning, I wake fresh and with no carefully planned agenda. It puts a smile on my face to wake up with nothing yet on my mind but the grace of God. During the course of the day, there will be work to do, plans to be made, things to be done but I’ll know God is still with me. The morning just highlights His presence.
Why did Jesus choose the morning to go out and pray? Why not the night, or at another time of the day? Looking at Mark 1:35 again, we know that He:
- Rose a long while before daylight
- Went out and departed to a solitary place
- And there He prayed
Luke 5:16 also says that even as multitudes came to hear Him and be healed, Jesus “often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed”. He prayed with His disciples, but He also went a little further to be alone in prayer with God [Matthew 26:36-39]. Logistically, perhaps it worked out better for Jesus to schedule in this time early in the morning, with no one yet awake to disturb him. This may be true, but I think perhaps there is more to it than just that.
Jesus rose when it was still dark, a long while before the natural light of the sun would light up the world. Yet, Jesus was here, in the physical dark, crying out to the Father and ushering forth a spiritual light. The same One who was present when God said, “Let there be light” physically, now stands before the Father again to say, “Let there be light” spiritually. In John 8:12, Jesus says, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in the darkness, but have the light of life.” And in 2 Corinthians 4:6 – “For it is God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus also found a solitary place to pray, somewhere without ministry, and without people. He was alone with God. No one had asked for His help that day, no one had spoken to Him yet. The first person He was speaking to was God. Jesus, in human form, chose to spend the first moments of His day being loved by, and loving His Heavenly Father. It was from this love, that He then began a full day of ministry. It was from this time, that Jesus knew the day’s plan. When His disciples found him to tell Him the crowd was looking for Him, Jesus said, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” [Mark 1:28] There are always things to do in the day, and decisions to make. Spending time with God first, helps direct our day in the flow of His will.
Why might Jesus rise in the darkness of early morning to meet with God? I consider the following reasons as I listen to the incessant ringing of my alarm clock:
- A place of solitude and one-on-one meeting with God
- A lack of “busyness”, and a clarity of mind focussed fully on God
- A reminder of Christ, the light in the darkness
- A chance to ask God’s plans, and step in line with His will for the day
Not Just Morning
I’m probably not going to wake up early every morning, and I’m probably not always going to wake with eyes wide open in expectation of God’s plans for the day. I am probably going to be tired some mornings, and grumpy. However, I treasure my undisturbed mornings with Jesus – times spent in the stillness of dawn, just listening to His thoughts. I treasure my nights too, and my afternoons with the Lord. But now, I’ve learnt also to appreciate another part of my God-given day – I yearn to catch my morning glimpse of Jesus.