The Morning Hour With God
By Andrew Murray (1828 – 1917)
How gracious is the provision by which a morning hour at the opening of the day can enable us to secure a blessing for all its work, and give us the assurance of power for victory over every temptation. How unspeakably gracious, that in the morning hour the bond that unites us with God can be so firmly tied that during hours when we have to move amid the rush of men or duties, the soul can be kept safe and pure. What cause for praise and joy that the morning watch can so each day renew and strengthen the surrender to Jesus and the faith in Him, that the life of obedience can not only be maintained in fresh vigor, but can indeed go on from strength to strength.
The Motive Principle
If we take the morning watch upon us simply as a duty and a necessary part of our religious life, it will soon become a burden. Furthermore, if the chief thought be our own happiness and safety, neither will that supply the power to make it truly attractive. There is only one thing that will suffice – the desire for fellowship with God.
It is for that we were created in God’s likeness. It is that in which we hope to spend eternity. It is that alone can fit us for a true and blessed life, either here or hereafter. To have more of God, to know Him better, to receive from Him the communication of His love and strength, to have our life filled with His – it is for this He invites us to enter the inner chamber and shut the door.
It is in the closet, in the morning watch, that our spiritual life is both tested and strengthened. There is the battlefield where it is to be decided every day whether God is to have all, whether our life is to be absolute obedience. If we truly conquer there, getting rid of ourselves into the hands of our Almighty Lord, the victory during the day is sure. It is in the inner chamber that proof is to be given whether we really delight in God, and make it our aim to love Him with our whole heart.
The presence of God is the chief thing in our devotions: to meet God, to give ourselves into His holy will, to know that we are pleasing to Him, to have Him give us our orders and lay His hand upon us and bless us and say to us, “Go in this thy strength.” When the soul learns that this is what is to be found in the morning watch day by day, we shall learn to long for it and delight in it.
Reading the Bible
With regard to the reading of God’s Word as part of what occupies us there, I have more than one thing to say.
1. One is that unless we beware, the Word which is meant to point us away to God, may actually intervene and hide Him from us. The mind may be occupied and interested and delighted at what it finds, and yet, because this is more head knowledge than anything else, it may bring little good to us. If it does not lead us to wait on God, to glorify Him, to receive His grace and power for sweetening and sanctifying our lives, it becomes a hindrance instead of a help.
2. Another lesson that cannot be repeated too often or pressed too urgently, is that it is only by the teaching of the Holy Ghost that we can get at the real meaning of what God means by His Word, and that the Word will really reach into our inner life and work in us. The Father in heaven, who gave us His Word from heaven with its divine mysteries and message, has given us His Holy Spirit in us to explain and internally appropriate that Word. The Father wants us each time to ask that He teach us by His Spirit. He wants us to bow in a meek, teachable frame of mind, and believe that the Spirit will make His Word live and work in the hidden depth of our heart.
He wants us to remember that the Holy Spirit is given us that we should be led by Him, should walk after Him, should have our whole life under His rule. Remember therefore that He cannot teach us in the morning unless we honestly give up ourselves to His leading. But if we do this and patiently wait on Him, not to get new thoughts but to get the power of the Word in our heart, we can count upon His teaching.
Let your closet be the classroom, let your morning watch be the study hour in which your relation of entire dependence on and submission to the Holy Spirit’s teaching is proved to God.
3. A third remark I want to make is this: ever study God’s Word in the spirit of an unreserved surrender to obey. You know how often Christ and His apostles in their epistles speak of hearing and not doing. If you accustom yourself to study the Bible without an earnest and very definite purpose to obey, you are getting hardened in disobedience.
Never read God’s will concerning you without honestly giving up yourself to do it at once, and asking grace to do so. God has given us His Word to tell us what He wants us to do and what grace He has provided to enable us to do it. How sad to think it a pious thing just to read that Word without any earnest effort to obey it! Let us make it a sacred habit to say to God, “Lord, whatever I know to be Your will, I will at once obey.” Ever read with a heart yielded up in willing obedience.
4. One more remark: Read God’s Word with a deep desire to know all His will. If there are things which appear difficult, commands which look too high, or for which you need a divine guidance to tell you how to carry them out – let them drive you to seek a divine teaching. It is not the text that is easiest and most encouraging that brings most blessing, but the text, whether easy or difficult, which throws you most upon God.
God would have you “filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (Col. 1:9). It is in the closet this wonderful work is to be done. Do remember, it is only when you know that God is telling you to do a thing that you feel sure He gives the strength to do it. It is only as we are willing to know all God’s will that He will from time to time reveal more of it to us, and that we will be able to do it all.
What a power the morning watch may be in the life of one who makes a determined resolve to meet God there! That one purposes to renew the surrender to absolute obedience, to humbly and patiently wait on the Holy Spirit to be taught all God’s will, and to receive the assurance that every promise given him in the Word will infallibly be made true.
It is in the light of these thoughts I want now to say a few words on what prayer is to be in the morning watch.
1. First of all, through prayer see that you secure the presence of God. Do not be content with anything less than seeing the face of God, having the assurance that He is looking on you in love, and listening and working in you.
If your daily life is to be full of God, how much more the morning hour where the life of the day alone can have God’s seal stamped upon it. In our spiritual life, we want nothing so much as more of God – His love, His will, His holiness, His Spirit living in us, His power working in us for men. Under heaven there is no way of getting this but by close personal communion. There is no time so good for securing and practicing it as the morning watch.
The superficiality and feebleness of our spiritual life and work all come from having so little real contact with God. If it be true that God alone is the fountain of all love and good and happiness, and that to have as much as possible of His presence and His fellowship and will and service is our truest and highest happiness – surely then to meet Himself alone in the morning watch ought to be our first care.
2. Secondly, let the renewal of your surrender to absolute obedience for that day be a chief part of your morning sacrifice.
Let any confession of sin be very definite – a plucking out and cutting off of everything that has been grieving to God. Let any prayer for grace for a holy walk be a definite asking and accepting in faith of the very grace and strength you are specially needing. Let your outlook on the day you are entering on be a very determined resolve that obedience to God shall be its controlling principle.
Do understand that there is no other possible way of getting into God’s love and blessing in prayer, than by getting into His will. In prayer give up yourself most absolutely to the blessed will of God. This will avail more than much asking. Beseech God to show you this great mercy, that He allows you and will enable you to enter into His will and abide there. That will make the knowing and doing of His will in your life a blessed certainty. Let your prayer indeed be a “morning sacrifice,” a placing yourself as a whole burnt offering on the altar of the Lord. The measure of surrender to full obedience will be the measure of confidence toward God.
3. Third, remember that true prayer and fellowship with God cannot be all from one side. We need to be still, to wait and hear what response God gives. This is the office of the Holy Spirit, to be the Voice of God to us. In the hidden depths of the heart, He can give a secret but most certain assurance that we are heard, that we are well-pleasing, that the Father engages to do for us what we have asked. What we need to hear the Voice and to receive this assurance, is the quiet stillness that waits on God, the quiet faith that trusts in God, the quiet heart that bows in nothingness and humility before God, and allows Him to be all in all.
4. Now comes the last and the best of all. Let your prayer be intercessional, on behalf of others. In the obedience of our Lord Jesus, as in all His fellowship with the Father, the essential element was – it was all for others.
The highest form of prayer is intercession. The chief object for which God chose Abraham and Israel and us was to make us a blessing to the world. We are a royal priesthood – a priestly people. As long as prayer is only a means of personal improvement and happiness, we cannot know its full power.
Let intercession be a real longing for the souls of those around us, a real bearing of the burden of their sin and need, a real pleading for the extension of God’s kingdom, real labor in prayer for a definite purpose to be realized. Let such intercession be what the morning watch is consecrated to, and see what new interest and attraction it will have.
God has called His children to live a wonderful, heavenly altogether supernatural life. Let the morning watch each day be to you as the open gate of heaven through which its light and power streams in on your waiting heart, and from which you go out to walk with God all the day.
– Arranged from Learning Obedience. Andrew Murray was a South African pastor, missionary leader and prolific writer.