My Mornings are for God
In 1980, at an evening session of the Texas Baptist Evangelism Conference in Dallas, I heard the late and great W.A. Criswell challenge pastors to give their mornings to God. The following Sunday, I stood before the small church I pastored, the First Baptist Church of Milford, Texas, and announced to them my decision to give my mornings completely to God for prayer and study. All these years, I have lived by this firm commitment. So what do I do in this time with God?
My Morning Schedule, Sunday through Thursday
Over the years, on a typical day, my schedule has evolved into me typically getting up at 3:00 a.m. from Sundays through Thursdays. If I am traveling, this schedule is negotiated and, of course, Sunday is a very different kind of day due to responsibilities.
On Saturday nights I usually struggle going to sleep, anticipating the day ahead. My goal is to be in bed with lights off by 10:15 p.m., if possible. My alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. and I head into the family room, get a cup of strong coffee or green tea, my iPad, (on which I keep my prayer list), my Bible, and my journal. I begin in prayer, moving into the Word, interweaving with prayer, and journaling a prayer to God — which I’ve done daily since January 1, 1990. I am a big believer in having a spiritual journal.
At 4:45 a.m. I jog on my treadmill for an hour, going over my sermon, praying through it, and talking through it aloud. This is where I move to mastering the sermon. After an hour on the treadmill, I call a prayer partner for a few minutes. I have called this man every Sunday morning since 1989, it is a practice I strongly encourage pastors to develop. I then eat a very light breakfast and head for the shower.
By 7:35 a.m. I am on my way to church. After touching base with our leaders for ten minutes, I am in my office for prayer and additional study. By 8:40 a.m. I am on my way to greet church members and guests in an informal setting and by 9:00 a.m. I walk into a prayer room with several men who lay hands on me and pray for me. By 9:10 a.m. I walk into our worship center, greet more people, and begin the worship experience. At the present time, I preach two major services, one at our Springdale campus and another at our Pinnacle Hills campus. After the second service, Jeana and I greet people for at least 20 minutes, we usually leave the campus around 1:00 p.m. I may or may not have a luncheon, but whatever the schedule, I look forward to a brief nap in the afternoon.
Monday Mornings through Thursday Mornings
Again, the alarm goes off at 3:00 a.m. After water goes on my face and I grab coffee or green tea to help me start the day, I head to my home study. The first 90 minutes of my morning are spent in prayer and the Word devotionally. I reference a long prayer list on my iPad, which continually grows and is updated. I always end up in my prayer journal, writing a prayer to God daily.
By 4:45 a.m. I am totally into my sermon preparation. I take this very seriously. For a pastor, there is nothing that is more important than developing your personal walk, followed by preparation to teach and preach the Word of God. From 4:45 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., with the exception of one hour for exercise and personal fitness, I am in study preparation. Sometimes I will respond to emails if it fits into the moment. If not, I wait. By 10:30 a.m. I am in the shower and by 11:30 a.m. I am on my way to a lunch meeting.
Friday and Saturday Mornings
I usually sleep in until 6:00 a.m. on Fridays and 6:30 a.m. on Saturdays. I always begin my day with God for at least an hour to 90 minutes. On Saturday mornings, I move into sermon preparation, mainly working on memorizing the sermon. I finish around 9:00 a.m., which during college football season is just in time for my favorite television program, ESPN’s “College Game Day.”
Take Away for Pastors Today: Give Your Mornings to God!
Giving your morning to God will transform your life and ministry. Nothing, and I repeat nothing, is more important than your own personal spiritual development and walk with God. It will transform your life and ministry. So pastors, devote yourself to a deep study time giving yourself to prayer and the study of God’s Word.
Yours For The Great Commission,