Being motivated is key to building up any good habit. And knowing the advantages of a particular habit positively motivates us. Likewise, knowing the disadvantages of not having that habit also motivate us.
For instance, we know regular—not occasional—exercise helps us feel better, work more efficiently, and even live longer. Keeping these positive benefits in mind motivates us to get off our chairs, get active and moving, and persevere, especially when we don’t feel like exercising.
As another example, we know we’ll have dental problems if we don’t regularly brush and floss. So we floss, not because we enjoy it, but because the negative outcome if we don’t encourages us to.
Similarly, habitually spending personal time with the Lord Jesus each morning positively affects our spiritual life and our daily living. When we enjoy Him and His Word in the morning, we’re nourished and supplied with His life to face the challenges of the day. And by being nourished, we’ll grow in the life of Christ.
But not having this daily habit affects us negatively. Without being nourished regularly, it’s difficult to maintain our vitality and joy. And when we’re weak from a lack of spiritual nourishment, we succumb to temptations more easily. Our personal knowing of Christ and our growth in His life are hindered.
Needing to practice
A habit is something that’s part of your life; it’s a regular practice. If you do something only occasionally, it’s not a habit. Forming a habit takes time and repeated practice, and in the process, sometimes we fail. But when we remember that it takes repeated practice, our occasional lapses won’t overly discourage us. We’ll just pick up our practice again afterward.
To establish the habit of spending time with the Lord every morning is no different. It takes time and repeated practice, and restarting after our lapses.
Some practical pointers:
Spend time to first pray about this matter. The Lord wants to have a personal relationship with us and will surely answer our prayers about this. He will faithfully remind us of our desire and intention to build this habit. We can pray, “Lord Jesus, I really want to start my day with You, not other things. Lord, supply me with grace in the morning to put everything else aside so I can be with You first.” Praying about this opens the way for the Lord to be the grace we need to build this healthy habit morning after morning.
Go to bed a little earlier so you can get up earlier in the morning to have time to be with the Lord. Burning the candle at both ends—staying up very late and trying to get up early enough to have this time—usually results in failure and discouragement. But by planning ahead this way, you’ll have a specific time carved out to be with the Lord each morning.
Keep in mind that forming a lifelong habit takes time and practice. When you fail, don’t give up. You can simply start afresh the next day because the Lord’s mercy is new to us every morning (see Lamentations 3). Just take one day at a time.
Determine the least distracting way for you to read the Bible. For instance, some find a printed copy of the Bible is better for them than a digital one during this time since email, news, and texts are all just a click away, and we can easily be distracted by things on our digital devices. Especially when starting out, it’s good to minimize distractions where we can.
Begin by aiming for a short time each morning. This is easier and more realistic than trying to go from spending zero minutes with the Lord to spending sixty. After you establish a shorter time first, say ten minutes, you can add more time. As you taste the joy of being with the Lord in the morning, you’ll spontaneously want to add more time, building up to perhaps a solid twenty minutes. And as you go on, if you have more time, you can spend more time. It’s up to you.
Building up the habit of spending time with the Lord each morning is a worthwhile endeavor that benefits us for our entire life. For help on what to do during this morning time with the Lord, read our post, “How to Spend Time with the Lord Jesus in the Morning.”