And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35)
There is no substitute for an earnest, fervent devotional life in a believer. No believer can live on just one sermon a week (or for that matter 3 sermons a week!). Many of the professing people of God find their Bibles a closed book – at their own choosing! Surely the words which brought us life in Christ should become the very meat and milk of our souls. Yet in order to draw to a fuller manifestation of Christ by a earnest quiet time, sacrifice is demanded. This is true whether the subject is the minister or the believer in the pew. Listen to the struggle of love to the Savior from Charles Simeon. Let it exhort us to make the sacrifices necessary in order to behold as in a glass the glory of the Lord, being changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.
… Simeon ‘invariably arose every morning, though it was the winter season, at four o’clock; and, after lighting his fire, he devoted the first four hours of the day to private prayer and the devotional study of the Scriptures. He would then ring his bell, and calling in his friend with his servant, engage with them in what he termed his family prayer. Here was the secret of his great grace and spiritual strength. Deriving instruction from such a source, and seeking it with such diligence, he was comforted in all his trials and prepared for every duty.’
This early rising did not come easily to him; it was a habit resolutely fought for and acquired. Finding himself too fond of his bed, he had resolved to pay a fine for every offense, giving half-a-crown to his servant. One morning, as he lay warm and comfortable, he caught himself reasoning that the good woman was poor and that the half-a-crown would be very useful to her. But that practical fallacy was not to be tolerated; if he rose late again, he would walk down to the Cam and throw a guinea into the water. And so he did, though not without a great struggle, for guineas were not abundant in his purse, and also he had learnt to look on them a ‘his Lord’s money’. But for his Lord’s sake the coin was cast in, and there it lies yet, no doubt, in the river’s keeping. Simeon never transgressed in that way again. (Handly Moule, Charles Simeon, Pastor of a Generation, 67)