Don’t Waste Your Mornings
Interview with John Piper
Pastor John you gave us six reasons why we addictively grab our phones when we wake up in the morning. And you said you had a remedy — a better course forward. Please share that with us here.
It might be helpful just to name the six incentives I mentioned that draw to me my phone in the morning. I have said there is a novelty hunger. I said there is an ego hunger. I said there is entertainment hunger. And then I said there are these three avoidances, like boredom avoidance. I just don’t want a boring day. There is responsibility avoidance, and there is hardship avoidance. So, there are pretty strong forces that are keeping us in bed and keeping us on our devices.
Was It Worth It?
But there is a better way, and these questions highlight the need for it:
What if you are the first one to the news, and it is horrible news?
What if your search for some ego-candy finds ego-acid, and people have hated you overnight?
What if you spend five minutes getting yourself happily entertained in the morning, rather than immediately facing the responsibilities of the day, and you find at the end of those five minutes that they have drug you down into a silly, demeaning, small-minded, hollow, immature frame of mind? Was it worth it?
What if you take five minutes to avoid the boredom and responsibility and hardship of the day only to find, at the end of those five minutes of avoidance, that you are spiritually, morally, and emotionally less able to cope with reality in the day than you were before? Was it worth it?
I think there is a better way to begin the day. And it will require some decisions before the morning. It never works to make last-minute efforts to decide to do something different. You need to decide twelve hours earlier what this crisis moment is going to look like. It will take some planning. It will take some thinking as you set your alarm clock.
Arm Yourself with the Word
I wrote this to the publishers of the English Standard Version (ESV) of the Bible: “Is there a way to use the ESV app or the ESV website in a way that you can set your alarm to go off with Scripture reading?” They wrote back and said, “Oh, that is a great idea. It really is possible.” But it was so complicated. I couldn’t figure it out.
“There is a better way to begin the day than by checking your phone, but it will require decisions before the morning.”
But I would just say to somebody that if you can figure that out, that is a great idea. In other words, just go ahead and set your alarm to start reading the Bible to you, and I think they are going to work on making it simpler.
What we want in the morning routine is to be filled with the Holy Spirit. We want something that gives us a zeal for the glory of Christ for the day’s work. We want to be strengthened to face whatever the day may bring. We want something that gives us joyful courage and the resolve to count others better than ourselves and helps us to pursue true greatness by becoming the servant of all, just as Jesus said (Mark 9:35). That is the real agenda in the morning.
Very few of us wake up strengthened to do all of those glorious works that we get to join Jesus in doing. So, the new course for the morning is laid out in the Psalms, and here is a key verse: “O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3).
Let the first thing out of your mouth in the morning, while you are still on your pillow, be a cry to God: “I love you, Lord. I need you, Lord. Help me, Lord.” That is the first cry out of my mouth in the morning: “I need you again today.” Then, prepare a sacrifice and watch. I think that sacrifice is my body and my attention devoted to him.
I watch for the Lord to show up — and do what? What am I watching for? Psalm 143:8 puts it like this: “Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” So, I am looking for the steadfast love of God, and I am on the lookout for it in his word.
Psalm 90:14 tells me how to think about praying for it when it says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love.” Don’t just look for it and see it, but ask the Lord, “O, satisfy me with this steadfast love that I may rejoice and be glad in you all my days.” We watch in God’s inspired word for revelations of his steadfast love and his guidance for our lives, and we get a profound sense of satisfaction in our souls that he is beautiful and that he cares for us.
“Let the first words out of your mouth while still on your pillow be a cry to God: ‘I need you again today.’”
Here are a couple more examples. Psalm 119:148 says, “My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.” Finally, Psalm 139:17–18says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, O God! . . . I awake, and I am still with you.”
So I suggest that, before you go to bed tonight, you make some choices and some plans and that you free yourself from the candy addictions and the habits of avoidance that have been ruining the strengthening potential for the beginning of the day.
John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Why I Love the Apostle Paul: 30 Reasons.