"It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was to have my soul happy in the Lord. The first thing to be concerned about was not how much I might serve the Lord, but how I might get my soul into a happy state and how my inner man might be nourished. For I might seek to set the truth before the unconverted, I might seek to benefit believers, or I might seek to relieve the distressed. I might in other ways seek to behave myself as it becomes a child of God in this world. And yet, not being happy in the Lord and not being nourished and strengthened in my inner man day by day, all this might not be attended to in the right spirit.
Before this time my practice had been at least for ten years previously, as a habitual thing, to give myself to prayer after having dressed myself in the morning. Now I saw that the most important thing I had to do was to give myself to the reading of the Word of God and to meditation on it, that thus my heart might be comforted, encouraged, warmed, reproved, and instructed, and that thus, by means of the Word of God, whilst meditating on it, my heart might be brought into experiential communion with the Lord.
I began, therefore, to meditate on the New Testament from the beginning, early in the morning. The first thing I did, after having asked in a few words the Lord's blessing upon His precious Word, was to begin to medicate on the Word of God, searching, as it were, into every verse to get a blessing out of it. I did this not for the sake of the public ministry of the Word, nor for the sake of preaching on what I had meditated upon, but for obtaining food for my own soul.
The result almost invariably was that after a very few minutes my soul was led to confession, to intercession, to thanksgiving, or to supplication, so that although I did not give myself to prayer, but to meditation, yet it turned almost immediately, more or less, into prayer. When thus I had been for a while making confession, intercession, supplication, or thanksgiving, I went on to the next words or verse, turning all as I went into prayer for myself or others, as the Word may have led to it, but still continually keeping before me that food for my own soul was the object of my meditation.
The difference, then, between my former practice and my present one is this: Formerly when I rose, I began to pray as soon as possible and generally spent all, or almost all, my time till breakfast in prayer. At all events I almost invariably began with prayer, except when I felt my soul to be more than usually barren, in which case I read the Word of God for food, refreshment, or revival and renewal of my inner man before I gave myself to prayer. What was the result? I often spent a quarter of an hour, half an hour, or even an hour on my knees before being conscious of having derived comfort, encouragement, humbling of soul, etc. Often, after having suffered much from wandering of mind for the first ten minutes, quarter of an hour, or even half an hour, I only then began really to pray.
I scarcely ever suffer now in this way. For my heart, being nourished by the truth, is brought into experimental fellowship with God. I speak to my Father and to my Friend (vile though I am and unworthy of it) about the things that He has brought before me in His precious Word. It often now astonishes me that I did not sooner see this point.
Enter into the holy place.
Take the golden key; He calleth thee."