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The First 30 Minutes



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 Recently it occurred to me that my love for my king-sized bed may be more intense than my love for Christ! In fact, the other day I concluded that the greatest evidence of my love for the Lord is when I choose Him over my bed the first thing in the morning.

I had never thought of myself as a sluggard. But I read the other day a description of myself: “As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.”1 It may not be only the love of money that is the root of all evil, I thought, but the love of a bed!

Strangely enough, when I discovered this it seemed even more difficult than usual to crawl out of bed in the morning. It was almost as if the devil himself was holding me down. But the moment of decision had come. Complete surrender to Christ would have to include my love for my king-sized bed.

A saying I remember very well goes like this: “Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. . . . This is a daily matter.”2 I thought I was doing just this—after I fed the dog, brushed my teeth, and retrieved the morning paper. But I wasn’t making it my “very first work.” 

Just as it’s easy to give God leftover money, it’s likewise easy to give Him leftover time. But to help us overcome the temptation of giving leftover money, God plainly says that we are to give Him the first tenth of our income; that is, we ought to return our tithe even before we pay our bills. 

It’s the same with time. God deserves better than our leftover time. He deserves time right off the top, before we get into the rigors of the day. So I determined to give to Him the first 30 minutes of my day—at least at the beginning.

How’s it going?

I have tried to follow God wherever He leads, but in this instance of getting up early to commune with Him, I just about gave up. He too must have struggled, as hard as He had worked the day before, to get up “a great while before day” to go into a desert place to pray.3 But He did it, so why shouldn’t I? Even though He was not a sinner, like myself, He felt the need of rising early to commune with His Father. Then again, maybe this was the reason He remained sinless! I read not too long ago that the disciples came to connect Christ’s hours of prayer with the power of His words and works.

How did Christ commune with His Father? What did He do during these secluded hours in the desert place? That question was answered when I read in The Desire of Ages that “the early morning often found Him in some secluded place, meditating, searching the Scriptures, or in prayer.”4

So I decided to try it for myself. And I discovered these things:

I had to get up earlier than before. If I was going to commune with God in my own home, then it must resemble a secluded place. This meant I had to get up before anyone else. Our poodle and chocolate-point Siamese cat would have to wait to be fed.

There must be no distraction. Not one noise (except the singing of the birds) was to be allowed to break my concentration. Distraction, I soon discovered, was the devil’s best weapon to disrupt my communion with God. 

Concentration on this communion experience must begin at the first moment of morning consciousness. “When you open your eyes in the morning, thank God that He has kept you through the night. Thank Him for His peace in your heart.”5 It’s so easy to concentrate on the day’s activities and upon unfinished tasks from yes

terday, but it was clear that “the very first outbreathing of the soul in the morning should be for the presence of Jesus.”6 Thus, in order to crowd out all distraction during those first 30 minutes, I had to begin concentrating on communion with God right from my first waking moments.

Soon those first 30 minutes became the best part of the day. I was less frustrated in my work. I had a calmer disposition. My feelings of insecurity vanished. My constant need for approval diminished. 

When there was an especially heavy day ahead, I was tempted to spend less time in communion. But I had read somewhere that Martin Luther regularly spent two hours in the early morning in prayer and Bible study. And when he had an especially hard day ahead, he would spend not less but more time, maybe three hours. He did this a long time before Ellen White wrote: “If the rush of work is allowed to drive us from our purpose of seeking the Lord daily, we shall make the greatest mistakes.”7

But the devil fought me every inch of the way. He tried very hard to keep me up late the night before, so that it would be more difficult to rise early. The telephone even started to ring earlier than ever. It seemed as though I had more trials than before. And so many distracting thoughts rushed through my mind. The inability to concentrate became my worst enemy. There must be some way to overcome this problem, I thought.

To date the best weapon I have found is reading the Bible—and not just reading or skimming it, but concentrating on it. I had heard that the Bible is the best way to clear our mind of distractions. I soon discovered this important statement: “We should take one verse, and concentrate the mind on the task of ascertaining the thought which God has put in that verse for us. We should dwell upon the thought until it becomes our own.”

I’ve discovered that the only mind that can be distracted is a passive mind or one that is dominated by negative thoughts.

Power prayer

After reading two or three chapters my mind was ready for prayer. I soon discovered that there is a science to prayer as well. One must pray intelligently for the best results. I divide my prayer into four parts: 

I first surrender everything to God. I ask Him to manage my life for that day. This includes a request to deliver me from all known sin. 

Second, I make personal requests, because I know God is interested in my personal life. 

Next, I make requests for intercession, for grace and strength for others. 

Then I spend some moments in thanksgiving and praise. I conclude my devotions knowing that God is all-powerful and without Him I can do nothing.

When I first began to form this important habit, I found it difficult to do this on Sunday. Sunday had always been a different day around our house. There was no schedule, and I might sleep in. But I had learned from inspiration that this was a “daily work.” “Neglect the exercise of prayer, or engage in prayer spasmodically, now and then, as seems convenient, and you lose your hold on God.”

If you miss just one day, you can get out of tune with God. This principle is experienced constantly by musicians and professional athletes. A well-known pianist once said: “If I do not practice for one day, I notice something wrong; if I do not practice for two days, my wife notices something wrong; if I do not practice for three days, the whole world notices something wrong.” David realized the importance of this. “Every day I call upon thee, O Lord.”10

The most important thing I noticed as a result of daily communion with God was that I was beginning to trust in Him more. I even thanked Him for the adversities He allowed to come upon me. I know that God is worthy of our trust and admiration. And this is why the enemy of souls fought so hard—and is still fighting hard—to keep me in bed in the morning. He knows that through Bible study and prayer, the mind is united with the mind of Christ. 

By personal experience I have discovered that “it is Satan’s constant effort to keep the attention diverted from the Saviour and thus prevent the union and communion of the soul with Christ.”11 When you dedicate the first 30 minutes of the day to Bible study and prayer, Satan knows that he has lost the struggle for your soul.

Early in my life I felt it unnecessary to spend any time with the Bible outside of studying my Sabbath School lesson. That was before I knew of the power residing in the inspired documents. Now I understand that when I open the Bible or Ellen White every morning—with a sincere desire to become better acquainted with Christ—God breathes His Spirit into my heart. The same Spirit that created the universe is in these documents. As my Bible study increased, my trust in God increased, because I was getting better acquainted with Him. And to know Him is to love Him; to love Him is to trust Him; and to trust Him is to obey Him.

I had been starving my soul all these years. To this day I have been trying to redeem the time. I have dedicated myself also to helping others learn how to spend the first 30 minutes of each day for the rest of their lives. 

 

1 Proverbs 26:14. 2 Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1956), 70. 3 Mark 1:35. 4 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898), 90. 5 Ellen G. White, The Ministry of Healing (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1905), 253. 6 Ellen G. White, My Life Today (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1952), 19. 7 Ellen G. White, Counsels on Health (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1923), 424. 8 White, The Desire of Ages, 390. 9 Ellen G. White, Gospel Workers (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1915), 255. 10 Psalm 88:9. 11 White, Steps to Christ, 71.

This article originally appeared in the October 26, 1976, issue of Insight. Wesley Blevins wrote from Charleston, South Carolina.

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