If I don’t spend time in solitude with God each morning, my whole day is off.
Each morning I wake up at 5 a.m., take a few minutes to come to, then spend time in prayer before I open God’s Word. I then take another 20-ish minutes to read a portion of the Old Testament, the New and either a psalm or proverb. After that I take the next hour to listen to a sermon while I get ready for the day. At 6:30, I arrive at the facility to do my lifting and early morning workout, during which I listen to music and meditate on what God spoke to me that morning during my quiet time. Then at 8, I meet with the rest of the team to start our routine.
This is how I always get ready for the day and it’s huge to me. Recently, I was organizing a charity softball game, which tended to throw my schedule off. I discovered that I would wake up early to answer emails, make calls and plan the details of the event before going to the facility. As a result, I was impatient with others, showed zero grace, and easily became fed up with small things.
I was all out of sorts because I became so wrapped up in this project that collided with my time with the Lord. I realized that next year, I need to delegate much more of the tasks and responsibilities to others, even though I loved doing it. If I’m not able to get up to first pray, reflect on what God’s doing and spend time worshipping Him, I’m pretty much worthless.
There are days when I open God’s Word and I catch myself drifting. When this happens, I try to not be too hard on myself. For instance, I’m reading Job right now and there are some repetitive discourses where I find myself thinking, “Let’s just get to the good part!” I haven’t gotten to Leviticus yet this year, but I know that’s going to be a drag at times. Yet I still read it because I know God’s Word does not return void.
Instead, when I get to these points, I’ll look up a sermon or teaching about the passage. Last year while I was going through Leviticus, I found an online video of a crash course on the Torah, taught by a Biblical professor, that really shed a lot of light on the passages I tend to skim through. After that, I was able to appreciate the book so much more.
A few years ago, I had a very small picture of who God is. I can definitely say that I did not have the presence of the Holy Spirit in me. But because I’ve made a deliberate effort to dig into God’s Word and understand more of Him, I am now at the point where He is everything to me. No longer do I have such a small view of God. Anything He asks me to do, I do it with faith and excitement. And I’m so thankful I have a wife that loves the Lord because when I come to her and share with her what God is asking me to do, she knows that this is from Him because I’m spending time with Him, listening to Him.
At this point, my view of God is expanding daily. I used to limit my prayers; for some reason I marginalized God to my own surroundings. For instance, when a world tragedy struck and people gathered to pray about it, I thought it was dumb. I didn’t see the point in praying for our country because it seemed too big of a thing. A few months ago, I saw on the news that there were kids in Thailand trapped in a cave. My heart broke and immediately I dropped to my knees in prayer. A few days later, those kids were rescued.
I know that our prayers work because we have a God who is real and who is big. As I spend more and more time with Him, I’m amazed at how He reveals more of His awesome self to me.
— Jordan Matthews, NFL wide receiver
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.