Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1:35, NIV)

Most mornings during the week, I stumble out of bed between 5:00 and 5:30. I don’t have to get up that early. I choose to start my day at that awful hour.


Because a bunch of guys play basketball in the local high school gym at 6:30 AM. I like the competition, I have the time, I need the exercise, they won’t meet over the lunch hour (despite my urgings) so I join them.

Though I’ve been keeping this schedule for years, it’s never become routine. It always involves a choice. In the winter, frigid Wisconsin temps and great-for-sleeping-in weather make the decision to pull back the bedcover all the more difficult. At that time of year, I’m frozen in indecision (yeah, I know, bad pun, but I just had to write it!).

But I choose to rise early and play with the guys.

Only recently have I started exercising my spiritual muscles early in the morning as well. In the past, I got up and went through some basic morning rituals—eating, dressing (which is generally encouraged before you play basketball), reading, checking email, that sort of stuff.

If I had some leftover time, I’d pray.

Do you know how much leftover time I had during the last couple of months? Seven minutes and thirty-eight seconds. Total!

Of course, I didn’t spend that much time praying all at once. I spread it over several days.

Yeah, I know. Pa-the-tic!

Now, I’m going to let you in on a big secret. I haven’t known this secret long (well, actually most of my born days—but only in my head, and not in the way that gets you to do something).

Big secret unveiling (cue trumpet blast):


Oh, you knew that already. I figured you did.

I did too.

In my head.

Not in my heart.

Nor in my actions.

But I’ve made a choice.

And it’s always a choice.

Never routine.

To pray.

First thing in the morning.

Like getting up for basketball.

Only better.

Question: What do you do first thing in the morning?

About tnealtarver

I've traveled and spoken around the world but always love to come home. There I eat exceptional meals, drink coffee to my heart's content, and get loved like nowhere else on earth. I believe a community centered in Christ should be all that and so much more.
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2 Responses to Choices

  1. Two years ago I started praying “This is the day the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” Learned it as a breath prayer from Ruth Haley Barton. I found it to be a good way to begin to align my day.

    Since that time I have added a few more — The Jesus Creed (love God, love your neighbor) asking God to make me a loving person, Jesus request to ask for workers in the Harvest, and the Prayer of Jabez, not for material stuff as much as for transforming lives and the church I serve/lead.

    Then I get out bed and get my day going. Some days I take some time to work through those 4, too many days I race through them. They have helped me to at least be aligned to start my day. Thanks for a great post.

    • tnealtarver says:


      Thanks for your example. Those are practical ways of praying that are helpful to us all.

      I want to add, for those who might check out the comments’ section, click on Richard’s name and you’ll be redirected to his blog. His writing adds value to my life.

      God bless,

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