Prayer schedules are optional. If you can’t live with them, don’t.
Some of us are morning people: We bounce out of bed every morning ready to tackle the coming day. It’s the best time of the day!
Some of us are night owls: We don’t mind staying up late to have fun, to get work done, to do whatever. It’s the best time of the day.
I’m a night owl. And for one semester in seminary, I lived with a morning person. Thank God he wasn’t one of those annoying morning people, the sort who think everyone should love mornings the same as they, and all it’ll take to convert us is getting a good night’s sleep. I used to work for such a person. She was so chipper every morning, I wanted to stuff her into one. But I digress.
My morning-person roomie believed in starting every morning with God in prayer. Makes sense, right? But he had to take it one step further: Start every morning with sunrise prayer. He and some eager friends would wake at the crack of dawn, head to the chapel, and pray.
They’d pray indoors, in the chapel’s prayer room. Which had no windows. Which meant they didn’t see the sun rise. Which still makes no sense to me. Isn’t that the point of sunrise prayer?
More than once, he invited me to come along. I went once. That was all. Like I said, I’m not a morning person. I had no problem going to the all-night prayer vigils with our Greek-letter society; I had no problem getting to see the sun rise from that route. But rising at dawn: The only reasons I bother is when work requires it, when I go to bed really early, or insomnia. I’d make a lousy monk.
King David was clearly a morning person. ’Cause he sang about morning prayer.
“Look,” I tried to explain, “my prayers are gonna suck when I’m sleep-deprived.”
’Cause back in my Fundamentalist days I was involved in ministries where early-morning prayer wasn’t voluntary: Everybody was expected out of bed bright ’n early, and off we’d go to morning devotions. And my prayers really sucked. First 10 minutes consisted of my complaining to God about being up so God-damned early in the morning. Followed by many apologies for saying “God-damned” to God, of all people. And for my rotten attitude. And for not really being able to focus on anything, much less God. Really, all this grousing and apologizing was time wasted. I could’ve just prayed when I was more conscious.
“Besides,” I joked to my roommate, “you don’t need to be awake to talk to God. Ever heard of prophetic dreams?”