Treat Yourself to the Voice of God

Early bedtime

First, treat yourself to an earlier bedtime. The night before affects the next morning more than we often recognize. Even just half an hour earlier can make a big difference. Earlier to bed enables you to rise earlier in the morning, without being tired, to treat yourself to a more unhurried time of Bible intake and prayer. And the earlier you rise, the fewer distractions you will encounter. More people are still asleep. You’ll find less pressure to move into other activities.

If you’ve never been a morning person, and have tried wedging in devotional time later in the day, I’d challenge you to give mornings a genuine try with a “treat yourself” mentality. Perhaps these ideas below will make a difference. God does not mandate that we have morning devotions—he doesn’t even command a daily “quiet time”—but he does offer his own self to us in his word, and the overwhelming testimony of God’s people throughout history has been that the first moments of the day are both fitting and practically beneficial for prioritizing the voice of first importance.

Inviting space

Treat yourself to a setting you enjoy, and can easily access. Maybe it’s a comfy chair or the kitchen table or nearby coffee shop. For me, it can be any big, clear surface—all the better when facing a window with a nice view. Through the winter, it’s my desk in the basement, with natural light streaming in from the egress window above. It gets cold down there, so I treat myself to warm slippers and a small space heater under the desk. Whatever your setting, it can help to don comfortable clothes.

After a long Minnesota winter, my favorite spot in the summer becomes our front porch, which faces east, with the golden solstice sun cresting the tree line. I know people who prefer to walk, rather than sit, as they hold a Bible, or listen to an audio version. Find your contexts that inspire your soul to focus on God and gladly receive his word.

Good smells

Treat yourself to good smells. This may seem silly and superfluous to some, but for others, good smells can go a long way. The expense of lighting candles or diffusing fragrant oils can add up over time, but Jesus himself applauded lavishness when expended toward appreciating him. Not only did Jesus commend Mary for choosing “the good portion” by sitting at his feet (Luke 10.38–42″>Luke 10:38–42), but he also defended her lavishness when his disciples accused her of wasting money to anoint those same feet (John 12.3–8″>John 12:3–8).

Instead of treating yourself to nice restaurants, expensive entertainment and new clothes, consider reallocating some of those resources to treat yourself to something of far greater importance: time alone with God. Perhaps that includes candles or furniture or something warm to drink. The principle is that, within reason, money invested in hearing from God is money well spent.

Conducive sounds

Treat yourself to background music—or none. Some prefer silence; others, gospel choruses or hymns. Perhaps, like me, you find it’s not the same sound every day—sometimes silence, other times an epic Lord of the Rings soundtrack.

Monitor how music affects your Bible intake. Music is powerful — and can be a help or hindrance. Background music for Bible reading is one thing. Songs with words might distract your reading. But consider using hymns and choruses, after reading, to sing to God in a spirit of worship.

Amazing opportunity

Finally, treat yourself to prayer, which connects us to one of the most mind-boggling realities in the universe: the open ear of God. God not only speaks to us in his word, but he also gives us access to himself through his Son. He wants to hear from us.

Instead of jumping into prayer lists, or parroting the same old requests, treat yourself to a more relational engagement with God. Don’t ignore what he’s just said to you in the Bible and awkwardly change the subject, but respond in prayer with his word in view. Pray his word, and that he would do in your heart and life what his word commands and inspires. And pray it for your family and friends and co-workers and neighbors.  

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David Mathis
David Mathis (@davidcmathis) is executive editor at desiringGod.org and an elder at Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis. He has edited several books, including Thinking. Loving. Doing., Finish the Mission, and Acting the Miracle, and is co-author of How to Stay Christian in Seminary.