You wake up with your mind racing through a long to do list. You promised yourself you’d set aside more quiet time with the Lord, but other things crowd into your day so that, no matter how hard you try, you barely spend a few minutes with the Lord. I get it because I’ve been there . . .
I’ll never forget the day. I was a new Christian and sat down for what I knew would be barely a 5-minute Quiet Time. Convicted, I confessed to God, “I know something has been standing in the way. I wake up and rush to work and barely spend a few minutes with You. I’m sorry, Lord.”
Can you relate?
Later that night, I heard someone on TV talking about fasting. Right then and there I decided I should fast. But I knew nothing about fasting. From what should I fast? And for how long? The next morning, after fixing my coffee, I sat down to pray and asked God, “From what should I fast, Lord?” The answer was as unexpected as it was unappetizing.
“Oh no, Lord! Not that! I don’t think I heard you right.”
“You look forward to your morning coffee more than you look forward to Me.”
A New Perspective
But I knew He was right. I poured my coffee down the drain and spent the entire day with a fierce headache. Whenever it demanded my full attention, instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or taking an aspirin, I prayed. I thanked God for my job, prayed for my co-workers, the progress of my book, or whatever else came to mind – anything to get my mind off my headache. At about 4:30pm, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I was in between meetings with 20 minutes to spare. Grabbing my cell phone, I stepped outside to call my best friend. After listening to me whine about my headache and the 30-day fast I had started, she asked,
“Did God actually ask you to fast for 30 days, or was that your idea?”
“Uhhh…I didn’t ask about the time. I just assumed a fast was supposed to be 30 or 40 days.”
“Well, then why are you wasting time talking to me? You should talk to God and ask Him what He really wants.”
Whether as new Christians or after many years of walking with God, it’s easy for us to jump to conclusions or set expectations that God didn’t even ask of us. Thankfully, He is always willing to help steer us back onto the right path.
Putting God First
With still 15 minutes before my next meeting, I walked outside to my car and slumped into the passenger seat. Pulling out the pocket-sized bible I kept in the glove box, I began flipping through the pages. My eyes fell on Psalm 94:3, “How long, Oh Lord?” Taking the verse entirely out of context (by the way, I do not recommend this ;), I looked up at the roof of my car, and pitifully cried out, “How long, Lord?” Amazingly, He answered:
“As long as it takes.”
“To do what?”
“To put me first. You see, my child, the headache you have is just a picture. This is how you suffer spiritually when you deprive yourself of time with Me in the morning.”
It was a quite an “ah-ha” moment. It is not that God wants to see us suffer, or to deprive us of something we enjoy, such as our morning cup of coffee or tea. He simply wants it moved out of first place. First place is reserved for God. That’s why the length of the fast was never clear: it’s not about time, it’s about position.
When we choose to give God first place each morning, we invite Him to pour His Spirit into our soul. And as we drink in His reviving goodness each morning, we will be filled with the strength, confidence, and spiritual vigor to face whatever may come our way.
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 5:3 NIV
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Shadia is a passionate Bible teacher, author and speaker who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies from Western Seminary and is author of several books and Bible studies.