TODAY’S SIGNATURE VERSE ••• But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray. (Luke 5:16 ESV)
PRAISE & PRAYER PROMPT ••• I love Christmas and all it represents, but I look forward to some nice, quiet, boring days in January. And sleep. I have been up way later than my bedtime this week. Last night was such an example. It was around midnight when I got to bed. But I did have fun. Two of my friends and I went to see the Nutcracker performance by the North Carolina School of the Arts. Incredible.
I’ve long been in awe of ballet dancers and occasionally bemoan that I didn’t continue ballet lessons when I was young. Their poise, elegance, and extraordinary strength is mesmerizing. These dancers are disciplined to the extreme and the years of dedication are reflected in their performance.
As I flipped through the program last night, reading names and details about the production, I thought about commitment. How people are willing to invest in what matters most to them. How we make time for what is important.
Our time with Jesus is most important. Yet, when we’re busy, it’s tempting to say, “I’ll read my Bible later…” “I’ll pray later…” And we even manage to convince ourselves that “later” is better. Because then, “we can focus.” We won’t be “distracted.” We can give God our “full attention.” Yet too often, “later” never happens.
You’d never hear a dancer make that argument about time spent on their craft. You’d never hear a musician use that excuse to delay practice. Because the time they invest means they get better and better.
Likewise, when we invest in personal Bible study and prayer time, we become stronger. Our faith grows. We walk more closely with God and know Him better. The thing is, when we delay Him, we hurt ourselves.
When Jesus had His earthly ministry, Scripture frequently tells us that He spent time in prayer. One such example is Luke 5:16, “But he would withdraw to desolate places and pray” (ESV). No matter how large the crowds or demands on His time, Jesus set the example for us. He demonstrated the importance of prayer time with God. He was disciplined in His prayer life and prioritized it. He did not allow others to take it from Him.
We’re quick to admire the discipline of artists, yet we quickly dismiss our own ability to be disciplined in our prayer life. Sometimes, people even criticize those who do make it a priority. I have received plenty of unsolicited opinions about how I start my day. But I spent years ignoring God. When I decided to commit myself, I meant it. It meant learning to get up around 5ish each morning to spend the first two+ hours of my day studying, praying, and writing.
Believe me—I’ve heard all the comments. “You’re crazy.” “I could never do that.” No, I’m not and yes, you can. I get up this early and do things this way so that I can have my time with God uninterrupted. I’m far less distracted at this hour. I’m armed with my Bible, prayer journal, Notes app, and a full cup of coffee. This time is sacred to me and I won’t sacrifice it for any reason.
Whatever time of day you set aside as prayer time is crucial to your overall well-being. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, on your lunch hour, or before bed — cultivating discipline isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. Let’s remember that we all have the same 24 hours. It’s up to us how we spend them.
Today, as you pray, thank Jesus for setting the example. Thank Him for showing us how to prioritize our relationship with Him. Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with a passion and longing to know God more. Ask Him to show you how to cultivate a prayer and study time that will grow you and make your faith-walk stronger.