Early morning prayer.
I love it.
I wrestle with it.
Most of my kids are morning people, which means getting up for early morning prayer before them, is getting up while it is still night. It basically means being a night owl on the front end of the day rather than the tail end, and I’m not sure that is what the Lord meant when He said you are the head and not the tail. Then again, He is a both-and kind of person. So who knows?
Getting to that prayer time is sublime though. Those first few moments, when that blessed silence sinks in like warmth from a fire on a cold day. Sometimes I can’t seem to move on from this peaceful silence and it ends up being the whole prayer time. I love it so much.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a mother and most of my day is loud. My ears haven’t stopped ringing since we had three and beyond. Perhaps it’s because the world has grown so loud in its unrest, it is nearly deafening. Either way, silence is more precious to me than it ever has been before.
The words from Psalm 46 resound acutely in my spirit. The whole thing is about war and upheaval. Yet in the midst of the storm there is God, a faithful refuge, sustaining strength, ever-present. David tells us how to find Him and tap into those blessings: Be still. (Psalm 46:10)
Stop long enough to touch the peace emanating from the Prince of Peace. Enter into His environment of stillness and meet with Him. Know Him. Experience Him in the blessed silence, and allow the knowledge of God to fill your heart with peace. Abide in Christ through the Holy Spirit in stillness, and find refuge and strength. Find peace that passes all understanding.
The peace Jesus gives us is beyond understanding because it is in the midst of the storms. Storms disrupt, flood, upheave, and even destroy. If we are in a storm, the effects of that storm should be evident in us, yet here we stand in peace, filled with the stillness of one who knows God.
We become like the disciples on the boat with Jesus in the midst of the storm in Mark chapter 4. Jesus just wrapped up a teaching tour of Capernaum and Galilee and decided to take the red eye boat over to the Decapolis on the other side of the Sea of Galilee. The disciples are working the sails and making sure the boat stays on track, while Jesus goes down below for some rest. A large windstorm arises over the lake when they are in the middle.
There is no getting out of this one, the only option is to go through it. Now the disciples are working double and struggling to keep the boat afloat. But it’s still taking on water. This storm is beyond their strength and skill.
So they go below to where Jesus is. They leave the outside environment of the storm and enter into His place of rest. They stop striving against the storm, and stand still around Jesus to ask Him for help, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” (Mark 4:38 NKJV)
That’s when Jesus moves, “He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still!’ and the wind ceased and there was a great calm.” (Mark 4:49 NKJV) In Greek, the word Jesus used for “be still” is πεφιμωσο, from the root word φιμοω. Which means silence, but in a forceful way. Like to make silent and keep shut through a muzzle or bridle. It’s silence that implies subservience.
The Prince of Peace spoke peace, and the storm was brought to subservience to Him and became silent. The wind dwindled into rest. The sea became still at the revelation of the knowledge of God through the word of God spoken by Jesus.
The peace that surpasses understanding, became a reality for the disciples. They learned the lesson of Psalm 46: be still and know that I am God. That same peace becomes a reality for me when I am in the blessed silence of early morning prayer.
But really I find I can access that peace during any prayer in which I take a moment to stop, come into surrender, and allow Holy Spirit to speak the word peace. When He does the storms in me to come into subservience to His word and are made to be silent in His presence. Perhaps the storms outside of me still rage, like the wars in Psalm 46, but now I am still and I know God is greater.
I think it was John Mark Comer who said we as the church need to be a non-anxious presence in an anxious world. I believe this state of non-anxiety is achieved through this sort of peace. The peace that is spoken by Holy Spirit over our hearts. The peace that brings chaos into submission until it is silent. The blessed silence we can enter every time we pray, even in the early morning.