One of the most important habits of my life is the habit of waking up and immediately spending time with the Lord. When I first wake up, I do my best not to let my thoughts wander too far from him. I spend a few minutes praying and then try to follow that with a few minutes in his word.

I don’t say this as a spiritual achievement, but more as a personal confession. After more than 30 years of being a Christian, I have found that starting my day out in him makes a difference. A big difference.

For me, it’s about three things:

My heavenly Father wants to have a relationship with me, and Scripture tells me that his mercies are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3:22–23). Wouldn’t I want to acknowledge and respond to a love as great as his?

My world is not the lunches I need to make for the kids, or the laundry that needs to be started, or the emails that piled up while I slept, or the social media posts I have yet to see. My world is way bigger than that, and my purpose is much deeper, but if I don’t take time in the morning to get some perspective, I might miss it.

My focus tends to drift in three primary directions: me, myself and I. Spending time with God first gets my focus off of me and gets me thinking differently from the get-go.

All too often I have learned that a day does not begin with God often revolves around me. The result is spiritual isolation, relational nearsightedness and inward absorption. In a world that God has designed to be relational, interactive and mutually dependent, it’s an awful way to live.

On the other hand, putting God first sets him in his rightful position and, therefore, me in mine. While there is certainly a discipline in putting him first, my deep need for relationship, perspective and focus drives me to make it a priority. It’s like pulling over at the gas station when the little yellow light on my dashboard comes on. While it may not be convenient, it’s definitely better than being stuck on the side of the road.

You too probably have a need for relationship, perspective and focus. How are you finding those? My guess is that, if you’re coming up short in any of these areas, putting God first might just be the answer you’re looking for. So what does that look like for you?