When Trying To Live A Carbon Copy Christian Life
Saleama A. Ruvalcaba
When I was a brand new Christian, nearly 10-years ago, I heard so much preaching on rising early to pray so God can answer prayers. I followed all the, “rituals”, if you will, in order to have my prayers answered. As I grew in my walk with Christ, something hit me – a lot of the preaching on rising early to pray, is essentially teaching on “works” in order to have God answer our prayers.
Romans 3:28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law.”
I am not suggesting there is anything wrong with rising early to pray. I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t rise early to pray. Jesus rose early to pray and to spend time with the Lord. However, there is a key aspect missing from this particular teaching. It has less to do with rising early – and more to do with giving our focused attention to the Lord.
I had spent my first six-months as a new Christian waking up early to read the Bible and pray – and thus, I did not bear any fruit because my heart was not right. As a new Christian, I thought God was mad at me for the way I had been living, so I was following these “rules” to be on the right side with God. I had no capacity to understand that there was nothing I could do that would earn God’s love. We are declared righteous apart from doing what the law requires. Salvation is by faith alone – not through works.
Romans 4:3-4 “For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed in God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but debt.”
Paul here is quoting Genesis 15:6 to prove that Abraham was not justified by works. God made a promise to Abraham and Abraham had faith that God would fulfill it. Abraham did not perform a ritual in order for God’s promise to be realized in his life – Abraham had faith. In the same way, no matter how much we “do” for God, it will not guarantee His promises.
Now before we get too far, let me state, yes we do need to spend time with God. But we need to know, everyone’s life is different. Everyone cannot rise early to spend time with God. Let’s think about police officers who are protecting and serving our community all night. He or she obviously cannot rise early in the morning to spend time with God. Let’s think about the surgeon who is saving lives all night long – he or she obviously cannot rise early to spend time with God. Or let’s think about the single mother who works during the night to support her children, she obviously cannot rise early to spend time with God. Or the caretaker who attends to the elderly in a nursing home at night – he or she cannot rise early to spend time with God. However, these people can spend time with God during the early evenings, or mid-day, or in the middle-of-the night while on a break at work. The point is, our lives are not all the same, and therefore, we cannot be expected to spend time with God all in the same manner.
And, we should always be careful in the way we teach God’s Word to others.
Romans 10:1 “Breathren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.”
Israel had zeal for God outwardly, but lacked true knowledge. They lacked an understanding of true worship to God. The same can be said toward a lot of the teachings we hear today. I know many Bible teachers mean well, but we lead people astray by trying to put God in a box. If God will only answer prayers in the morning, then we can argue over what time in the morning? One Christian might rise at 4a.m. while another at 5a.m. and then get into a Spiritual battle over who God will answer. It is not about rising early. The emphasis on rising early has more to do with us not being distracted so we can converse with God. It is not about our answered prayers – rather, hearing God’s voice so that we can be a witness to others.
I actually do rise early to spend time with God, and guess what, more often than not, my two-year-old will rise early right along with me. I have no choice but to continue my worship with God as planned. I make my coffee. I sit her at the table with me and fix her a morning snack while she watches a pre-school show on my iPad. My desire to hear from God and spend time with Him is so strong, I have learned to block out, the “ABC’s” in the background. I study the Bible, pray and journal while she’s sitting there. I am no longer just looking for God to answer my prayers, I am looking to grow in my relationship with Him.
No, I am not suggesting you should have the television on, or be on social-media all while trying to spend time with God, because again, that would fall into the category of “works”; reading and praying just to get God to answer.
However, there are some things we simply cannot control, and my two-year-old waking up early, I cannot control, therefore I do my best to continue my worship time with God. No matter what your life looks like, it all boils down to your heart with God.
Ultimately, God wants our undivided attention so we can hear Him. He wants to speak with you. He wants you to speak with Him. Spending time alone with God allows you to know the plans He has for your life. He will guide your prayers. It is wonderful and powerful. I encourage every Christian to find a designated time to spend with God daily. You do not have the same life as other people. Your time with God will be on a different path – a path set only by Him. Find a designated time of day to be with your Father – alone.
You will grow – the Kingdom of God will grow – and each day more people will come to know the Lord.