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Trade Paperback
174 pages
Mar 2006
Harvest House Publishers

When You're Running on Empty

by Cindi McMenamin

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Start Your Day with Prayer


In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.
Psalm 5:3


If you’re like me, you’d rather just sleep in every morning.  I wasn’t always that way. I remember days in my early thirties when I eagerly rose from bed at 5:30 am, spent some precious time in prayer and Bible study, and then showered and got on with an extremely productive day.

Where did those days go?

Now that I’m past 40, it’s not nearly as easy to rise and shine and conquer like I used to. Seems like there’s this added weight of obligations, age, physical wear and tear, and, sometimes, just plain weight!  I’d just as soon let the snooze alarm go off a few times and lay in bed thinking about what I’d do if I just had a little more energy.  That’s where the self-discipline comes in. I know, in my heart of hearts, that if I’m self-disciplined, from the time I get up I’ll be much less sluggish and far more productive. That’s where the “will” comes in—the will to start the day right.

As I lie in bed, I must remember that the day was not created for me and whatever I want to do. There’s Someone Else in the picture. And what is His idea of why I was given one more day?

The Westminster Confession says, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” You and I were created for relationship with the living God. That’s an amazing concept well worth thinking about. In fact, when I remember to focus on that concept as soon as I wake up, it’s enough to get me out of bed knowing that my Creator is waiting to enjoy the day with me. If it were the other way around, I’d probably wait till I felt like being with God. But He is always waiting for me…and for you. And who are we to make the God of the Universe wait?


Finding Your Focus

        The apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13–14, “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on….” What did he press on toward? The prize—the relationship with God. In spite of life’s many obligations and pressures, he knew the one thing he needed to do was to keep his relationship with God a priority.

When you first wake up and contemplate your day, can you, too, ask  yourself, “What is the one thing I must do today?”

Maybe your answer is “I must take care of my children.” Or, “I must get that project completed.” May be it’s even “I must get through this day.”

Yet God tells us in the Bible “and [God] will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern” (Matthew6:33nlt).  Know the one thing you must do today (put your relationship with God first), and everything else will fall into place.

I’ve found this  true in my lifetime and time again.  When I take the time to start my day off right—by rising a little earlier so I have time to quiet my heart and talk to God—I am able to focus first and foremost on the one thing.  Then all the other things I need to do fall amazingly into place.

God has a way of honoring our time and helping us be more productive in our day when we first honor Him. And by taking to Him all that we have to do that day, we are also releasing it to His control, which removes from us the weight and burden of feeling we have to control all the day’s events. 

The Bible also says, “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you.” There is a tremendous amount of refreshment that comes from handing over to God—early in the day—all that concerns us and weighs us down. Then He fills us with His peace so we can face the day without anxiety.

God knows we’re prone to becoming stressed out about things.  That’s why He told us in His Word, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”      

Hiding Away with God

King David, who was evidently stressed and run down at times, said,  “The one thing I ask of the Lord—the thing I seek most—is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock.”

David was saying that of all the things he could have (and for a king, not too much is out of reach!), he wanted a hideaway with God—a place where he’d be concealed, hidden, out of reach from trouble. He found that place by meditating on the Lord, seeking His face, finding that quiet time to focus on God.

David also found that time in the morning. As busy as he was—running the kingdom of Israel, commander-in-chief of Israel’s army, husband to several wives, father to several children (and many of them quite dysfunctional)—he experienced stress at times. In one song he wrote, “Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness.  How quickly I would escape—far away from this wild storm….” Yes, David apparently faced stress and burnout, and at times must have felt he was running on empty. Yet we find throughout his songs some references to getting away with God in the morning, and starting his day right… with prayer.

        “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord,” David sang. “Each morning I bring my request to you and wait expectantly” (Psalm 5:3 NLT).

Can you meet with God for a few minutes each morning and therefore start your day right? Can you prayerfully reflect on His Word in order to compose your thoughts and prioritize your day? Can you remember that, above all things, your relationship with God is why you’re here? When that relationship is humming along, so will all the other aspects of your life.

By starting your day in quiet reflection and prayer, you are opening the channels of communication with God that will remain open throughout the day. You are ushering peace into your day, and keeping chaos from crashing into it.


Making It Happen

If you don’t already have a regular plan of starting your day with prayer, here’s one that has worked for me:

1.  Find a quiet place to retreat to every morning. Do you have a “sanctuary” to which you can hide away with God? It doesn’t need to be fancy…just a place where you can get away from the distractions of the morning and meet quietly with God. For example, one of my friends goes into her walk-in closet and closes the door.  Maybe your place of retreat is early in the morning at the kitchen table, while the house is still quiet and before you open the newspaper. It may be your living room chair by the window, after the kids leave for school. Or it may be in your car—with the radio turned off—while you’re driving to work. Find that place and make it your “sanctuary”—a regular meeting place with God

2.  Focus your mind in quiet prayer.     Once you’ve found your sanctuary, ask God to help you quiet your mind and focus your thoughts on Him. Then ask God what He’d like of you that day, rather than telling God what you want from Him.  Open your Bible to a psalm and pray through it. As you do this, your prayers become guided by God and you end up seeking His will, not your own, for the day. Therein lies the peace and the power and the fuel to get through the day.

3.  Follow God’s still, quiet voice throughout the day.     As you open the channels of communication with God in the morning, through prayer, you will be placing yourself on the “receiving end” of what He wants to say to you throughout the day. Listening for God’s still, quiet voice throughout the day tunes your ears to what He wants to say and keeps you in a “quiet mode” throughout the day.  This will protect you from running the pace that makes you feel you’re running on empty.      If you can quiet your heart first thing in the morning, then keep that quiet heart throughout the day, then you will have found a way to carry your “sanctuary” with you throughout the day and stay in a restful, quiet mode.

So, are you ready to start your day right? Those three action steps, on a daily basis, will get you out of the habit of running harried and shift you into a slower mode of walking enjoyably through your day so you don’t find yourself running on empty at the end of the day.  


Pick-Me-Up Prayer


Lord, You call me when I first arise. And how I want to be there when You call, meeting You like the dawn meets the morning sky. How many times have You waited, only for me to not show up? I don’t want to be a no-show any longer.

Wake me gently and prompt me to a place where I can get alone with You while the house still sleeps. Help me to sit quietly as You bring Your rest into my soul. Remind me of the one thing that is most important. The one thing You want from me is written all over Your Word. You say You love me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). You want me to live with hope and purpose (Jeremiah 29:11). And You paid the ultimate price on the cross to secure me as Your own.

May I, like David, sing in my heart, “There is one thing that I want…it’s You—to know You, to commune with You, to enjoy You forever.”  Give me the strength and energy to prove it by getting out of bed every morning and spending the first part of my day in prayer with You. From now on when You call in the morning, may I already be waiting for You…

My soul waits for the Lord, more than watchmen wait for the morning…

(PSALM 130:6).