Armor Up: Why Every Christian Needs a Morning RoutineA morning routine of scripture reading and prayer (“devotions”) is the most practical way for a Christian to “armor up” for the day.
When I was growing up, there was one thing we never had in our house: orange juice. I’m not quite sure why, but it was something my parents never purchased. In those days, sitcoms were very popular, and I was a regular watcher. The kids on my favorite shows were often seen in the kitchen in the morning with a glass of orange juice. As children often do, I looked to those characters as role models. So, in my young mind I believed that people who were winning at life drank orange juice every day. It wasn’t a direct cause and effect kind of thing—that much I knew. Orange juice itself couldn’t make me smart, popular and pretty, like Marcia Brady. But if I could have orange juice every day, maybe it would set the stage somehow. Maybe the proper background would help me construct a really great present and future. I know it sounds crazy, but I really believed if I wanted to lead a charmed life, I’d have to get my hands on that juice.
Now, as an orange juice-buying adult, I’m compelled to report that there is no connection between that delicious beverage and quality of life or personhood, except that it makes you feel a little better when you have a cold. A glass of orange juice with breakfast isn’t a guarantee of a great day, and certainly not of a perfect life! But when the goal is to be a better version of ourselves, there are healthy morning habits that are invaluable. Habits that actually do make a difference.
I can recommend many morning habits: making your bed when you rise. Starting your day with a walk outside or on the treadmill. Eating breakfast. Taking vitamins. I have found that all these things have value. But as disciples of Christ our morning routine should do more than keep our bodies functioning well (though that is important!). If we are to set the stage for real success, then we need to prepare ourselves spiritually for each day before us. When we rise, we don’t know what the day will hold. It may be full of joy and lightness, or it may be full of challenges. Maybe even pain. The ingestion of a favorite beverage or a healthy breakfast can’t ready the Christian for whatever the day may bring. But the ingestion of the Word of God can.
Psalm 19:7-8 says this:
The instructions of the Lord are perfect,
reviving the soul.
The decrees of the Lord are trustworthy,
making wise the simple.
The commandments of the Lord are right,
bringing joy to the heart.
The commands of the Lord are clear,
giving insight for living.
What could be more beneficial for gearing up for the day than time in God’s Word? When we read it, we expose ourselves to perfect instructions that revive the soul, trustworthy guidance that makes us wise, and commandments that bring us joy and insight! I have often heard people remark that there is no manual for life. How wrong they are. Scripture is our manual and it will not fail us. When our dishwasher broke recently, I pulled out the manual and valiantly attempted to ascertain and remedy the problem. But the manual was made for several models of dishwasher, and it addressed many problems—none of which related in the slightest to the problem we were having! In contrast, we disciples of Christ normally find that when we read (or listen to) our Bibles, that manual—though ancient—speaks directly to our hearts today. In fact, sometimes you might find yourself wondering if a certain verse or passage was put in Scripture just for you!
But the healthiest morning habit doesn’t end with Scripture reading. Prayer is a critical component. Reading the Bible without spending time in prayer is like going for a swim and only kicking your legs! You’ve got to move your arms, too, to get the full benefit of the exercise! To start the day with Scripture and prayer is full spiritual engagement. Praise, confession and commitment are all elements of prayer that are prompted by the reading of God’s Word.
A morning routine of scripture reading and prayer (“devotions”) is the most practical way for a Christian to “armor up” for the day. We are told in Ephesians 6 (NIV) that we need to put on the armor of God so that we are ready to “stand against the devil’s schemes.” Verse 17 tells us to “take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” And verse 18 tells us to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions.” Because even if we’ve exercised, made the bed and had a breakfast that included orange juice, we don’t know what each day will bring. But we know it is the regular business of Satan and his forces to try to break us. If we’ve prepared ourselves well, through the power of the Holy Spirit we can have victory over any of his sordid schemes.
In all fairness, I think it should be said that a time of personal devotion doesn’t have to be in the morning. It doesn’t lose value in the afternoon or the evening! Any time when you are very alert and undistracted is the right time. The key is to make it a habit, however that works for you. So, whenever you do it, pour yourself a glass of … your favorite beverage, and settle in. If your heart and mind are open, you won’t be disappointed.