I want to tell you very openly and honestly what I do every morning, every day of the week — Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. It doesn’t matter what day it is or where Denise and I are in the world — I do these things every day of my life. And I believe that by sharing my experience, you will be encouraged to renew your time with the Lord and come to Him for what you need each day.
Every morning when I get out of bed, I get a cup of coffee and walk into the room where I read my Bible. I sit in my chair and, immediately, I begin to do the following:
Get quiet. The first thing I do is get quiet. Psalm 46:10 says, “Be still, and know that I am God….”
I’ve found that I need to quiet myself so I can listen to the Lord. So before I do anything else, I sit in my chair and get quiet.
Read deeply. Next I take my Bible and open it to wherever I’m reading, and then I begin to read deeply.
I used to think that it was very spiritual to read a lot of verses at once, but now I don’t read quickly. Instead, I read very deeply.
I read deeply so the Bible can talk to me. I’m not just reading for information. Sometimes I read the same passage again and again so that it can keep speaking to me.
I find that when I read this way, the Bible begins to show me areas in my life where I need to change. It gives me direction for my life. It gives me answers that I’ve been seeking. And sometimes, it gives me questions that I need to be asking.
It’s better to read slowly and let the Bible talk to you than to simply read a whole lot of verses without being ministered to.
Pray. After I’ve quieted myself and allowed the Word of God to speak to me, I pray.
I pray for you — I pray for our partners. I pray for our church members. I pray for the core leaders of our church and the ministry and for all those who serve. I also have a special prayer list that I pray over every day. And then I get quiet, and I ask the Holy Spirit to bring faces to my mind of specific people He wants me to pray for. After that, I pray for the city of Moscow where we live and for the nations. And, finally, I pray for the long-term vision of our church and ministry.
But as I pray, I’m also listening because prayer is two-way communication.
I do this every morning of my life. I did it this morning. I did it yesterday. And I will do it again tomorrow. This is just as real in my life as taking a shower or brushing my teeth because I’ve made a commitment that this is going to be the way I start every day.
Find a Time and Place
Denise and I live in a house. And in our house, I have a room where I go to pray and Denise has a room where she goes to pray. But you might say, “Rick, I live in an apartment, and everywhere I look there are people around.” Then you’ll have to make some decisions about where and when to be alone with God.
Maybe you need to get up earlier than the people you live with. Maybe you need to go to the kitchen to be alone. Maybe you need to go to a café and drink a cup of coffee to spend time with the Lord — that’s what my son Paul does because Paul’s house is filled with children! Or, if you drive to work, try getting there early and sit in your car while you read your Bible and talk to the Lord.
You might have to be creative, but we can all find a place to spend quiet time with the Lord.
And I believe it’s important that you do this in the morning. David wrote in Psalm 5:3, “My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning, will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.”
Twice in this verse David said, “I’ll do it early. I’ll do it in the morning.” And I am telling you, if you don’t commit to do this first thing in the morning, your day can quickly get out of control. Everything will start screaming for your attention. And before you know it, it will be the end of the day and you’ll realize you haven’t spent any time with the Lord. So you have to decide that spending time with the Lord is going to be the highest priority in your life. You have to say, “I’m going to do this before I do anything else today.”
Jesus Went Away To Pray
In the Bible we often read about Jesus going to places all alone to pray. There are times when Jesus got up very early or prayed late at night in order to find a place where He could be alone with the Father.
Jesus was the Son of God, but even He understood that it was important for Him to withdraw from others and pray.
We find an example of this in Mark 6. Jesus fed 5,000 people, and then verse 45 tells us, “And straightway he [Jesus] constrained his disciples to get into the ship….”
The crowd was probably buzzing with excitement after seeing that supernatural multiplication of food. But then Jesus sent the disciples away. The Bible says He “constrained them,” meaning He made them do it. The disciples didn’t want to leave. They may have been so excited about the miraculous ministry happening that day that they wanted to stay.
But after the disciples went away, we read that “…he [Jesus] sent away the people. And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray” (Mark 6:45,46).
Jesus had just fed 5,000 people. It was the largest meeting He had ever had. And it was exciting — no wonder the disciples didn’t want to leave! Jesus was gaining momentum among the people, and at that moment, naturally speaking, He could have seized the opportunity to build something really great for Himself.
But what did Jesus do? The Bible says He “straightway” sent everyone away so He could go to the mountains and pray.
I want you to notice the word “straightway” in verse 45. The Greek word means without delay. It means to do something immediately without any interference. It tells us Jesus was determined. Even though He had just experienced this great victory, He was determined to get away from the multitude so He could pray to the Father without any interference.
Even in the midst of a very successful meeting, Jesus recognized His need to stay in touch with the Father. And He made His time with His Father the top priority.
I want to follow the example of Jesus. Don’t you? If we really want to do that, we have to find time to pray. And we must make it our top priority.
Anybody who knows Denise and me closely knows that we believe in working very hard. We believe in giving a thousand percent to what we do! But there comes a time every day when we need to go away and spend time with the Lord — to press into His presence so He can refresh us, renew us, and refill us.
So I’ve determined in my heart that I’m going to carve out time to be with the Father, to read His Word, to fellowship with Him, and to let Him search my heart and change me because I need to hear Him speak to me every single day.
Just as Jesus went to a mountain to pray, I have consecrated a place where I go to pray. I go there and shut the door. And when that door is closed, everyone understands that I am with the Lord. In that place, I spend my time with the Father. And when I’m on the road, I also dedicate a place to be alone with the Lord — I get quiet before Him, to read and meditate on His Word, and to pray.
Don’t Give Up
There are many people facing real struggles in their lives right now. And maybe it’s a hard time for you too. But I want to tell you that the way we come through difficult times is by coming to the Lord in prayer. So I encourage you to spend time with the Lord, casting the full weight of all your cares upon Him as Psalm 55:22 commands us to.
Your flesh will try to put up a fight. Your flesh will tell you there’s something else you need to do — like read your e-mails or check the messages on your phone. But when other things scream for your attention and try to pull you out of that consecrated place, you have to be determined and say, “No, I’m not doing anything else until I’ve come to my mountain to pray, because that is my source of strength, that is my source of peace, and that is where I’m going to get all my answers.”
And you can start right now. You can start tomorrow morning. You can start by spending just a few minutes in prayer — it doesn’t have to be an hour — and let your time with the Lord grow from there until, finally, you’re experiencing quality time with God. He’ll open your heart. He’ll remove the things that have troubled you. And He will continually fill and refill you with the Holy Spirit.
— A Message from Rick Renner