What Does the Bible Say About Waking Up Early?

Getting up early in the morning is a habit that many successful people practice. Waking up before sunrise gives you quiet time to pray, plan your day, and start important tasks before others are up. But what does the Bible actually say about waking up early? Is it required or just recommended for followers of God?


Rising early is commended numerous times throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, faithful heroes like Abraham, Jacob, and Job consistently got up early to meet with the Lord or accomplish His will. Jesus Himself made a habit of withdrawing very early in the morning for prayer.

There are clear spiritual benefits to waking up before dawn. The pre-sunrise hours provide solitude, silence, and space to seek God before the busyness of life intrudes. Early mornings allow uninterrupted time to read the Bible, pray undistracted, and prepare your heart for the day.

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While the Bible stops short of commanding believers to wake up early, the consistent examples of godly men and women doing so in Scripture implies it is wise. God often met with people in the quiet mornings, filling them with guidance, vision, and power for that day.

Key Takeaways:

  • Many righteous biblical figures like Abraham and Jesus habitually woke up early.
  • God often met and spoke with people in the pre-dawn hours.
  • Early mornings provide distraction-free time to pray, read Scripture, and meet with God.
  • While not strictly commanded, waking up early is portrayed as wise and beneficial.
  • The quiet morning hours help believers align their hearts with God’s will for that day.
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Old Testament Examples of Waking Early

The Old Testament contains numerous examples of faithful servants of God rising up early. Some were prompted by God Himself, while others made a habit of waking before dawn to seek the Lord in solitude.

Abraham’s pattern of rising early

The first biblical reference to waking early is Genesis 19:27, which notes that “Abraham went early in the morning to the place where he had stood before the Lord.” This hints that communing with God in the mornings was likely a pattern for Abraham. Genesis 21 later confirms this:

And Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. (Genesis 21:14 NKJV)

Abraham consistently rose early to obey God’s prompting or fulfill His commands. Waking up at dawn to meet with the Lord became a steadfast habit for the father of our faith.

Jacob’s all-night wrestle and morning meeting

After wrestling with God all night long, Jacob had a life-changing encounter with Him as the day dawned:

Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob’s hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. And He said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Genesis 32:25-26 NKJV)

This passage suggests God intentionally met Jacob in the early morning hours. Jacob refused to let go of God until He blessed him, indicating His desire to meet with the Lord at dawn.

Moses’ morning meetings with God

After the Israelites sinned by worshiping the golden calf, Moses returned to the Lord’s presence early the next day:

And Moses rose early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the Lord had commanded him, and took in his hand two tablets of stone. (Exodus 34:4 NKJV)

Moses habitually went early in the morning to meet with God to receive His commands and instructions for leading Israel.

Job’s pattern of early morning sacrifice

Job 1 describes how Job regularly rose early to present burnt offerings to God on behalf of his children:

So it was, when the days of feasting had run their course, that Job would send and sanctify them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did regularly. (Job 1:5 NKJV)

Waking early to commune with God and intercede for his family was a regular pattern for Job.

Joshua conquers Jericho

God gave Joshua specific instructions to march around Jericho early in the morning when conquering the city:

And you shall march around the city, all you men of war; you shall go all around the city once. This you shall do six days. And seven priests shall bear seven trumpets … But on the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, and the priests shall blow the trumpets … And it happened at the seventh time, when the priests blew the trumpets, that Joshua said to the people: “Shout, for the Lord has given you the city! (Joshua 6:3-5, 16 NKJV)

Waking up early to follow God’s battle plan was key to victory at Jericho.

So in the Old Testament, we see a consistent pattern of righteous men and women waking early to meet with God, offer sacrifices, receive instructions, or fulfill His will. Early mornings were set apart as sacred time with the Lord.

Jesus and Early Mornings in the Gospels

Jesus Himself made a habit of rising early to pray, meet with the Father, and prepare for the demands of each day of ministry. Here are a few examples:

Jesus’ morning prayer times

The Gospel of Mark says:

Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. (Mark 1:35 NKJV)

And in Luke’s gospel we read:

However, Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray in the early morning hours. (Luke 5:16 NKJV)

Jesus chose the pre-dawn hours to withdraw from people and pray in solitude, setting the pattern for morning devotions.

Early mornings empowered and guided Jesus’ days

After ministering long into the evenings, Jesus still woke up early to reconnect with the Father. Mark 1 notes:

Now when evening came, after the sun had set, they brought to Him all who were sick and those who were demon-possessed. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases and cast out many demons … Now very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up and slipped out to a solitary place to pray. (Mark 1:32, 35 NKJV)

Daily morning prayer empowered Jesus’ long days of healing and ministry. The pre-dawn hours guided Him in discerning the Father’s will each day.

The resurrection – the greatest early morning event

The resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most important early morning in all of history! As Sunday dawned, Jesus arose victorious over death itself:

Very early on Sunday morning, at sunrise, they went to the tomb … but they found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. When they went in, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. (Luke 24:1, 3 NKJV)

Ultimately, Jesus’ death and resurrection allow our sins to be forgiven so we can fellowship with God. No wonder believers through the centuries have woke up early on Sunday mornings to celebrate His resurrection!

So in the Gospels, we see Jesus Himself modeling the habit of waking up early to pray, commune with the Father, and prepare for the day. This set the pattern for Christians rising early on Sundays and for morning devotions.

New Testament Teachings on Early Mornings

While not commanding it outright, the New Testament speaks favorably about waking up early and meeting with God at dawn:

Morning intercession

Hannah rose early to pray and intercede for a child in 1 Samuel 1. The same habit continued in New Testament times according to Acts 12:5:

So Peter was kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church. (Acts 12:5 NKJV)

The early church made a habit of waking up early for corporate prayer meetings.

Morning sacrifices

Old Testament saints like Job rose early to make sacrifices to God. Paul references morning sacrifices continuing in the New Testament era:

You also, as living stones, are built up as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 2:15 NKJV)

While we no longer make animal sacrifices, Christians still wake early to offer “spiritual sacrifices” of prayer, praise and worship to God each morning.

Morning spiritual hunger

Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would satisfy the morning spiritual hunger of His people:

He awakens Me morning by morning; He awakens My ear to hear as a disciple. The Lord God has opened My ear; and I was not disobedient, nor did I turn back. (Isaiah 50:4b-5 NKJV)

Jesus fulfilled this by rising early to pray and commune with His Heavenly Father, setting the pattern of morning devotions for believers.

So while the New Testament does not explicitly command waking early, it paints it in a favorable light as the ongoing habit of godly people. The pre-dawn hours are set apart to meet spiritual hunger, offer sacrifices of worship, and intercede through prayer.

Practical Benefits of Early Mornings

Beyond encountering God, there are some very practical benefits to waking up early regularly:

  • Peace and quiet – the world is silent in the early hours, allowing focus on God.
  • Time in Scripture – read and meditate without rushing through it.
  • Prayer – pray undistracted for extended periods.
  • Planning – morning clarity helps organize your day before it starts.
  • Productivity – get an early start on important projects.
  • Exercise – schedule exercise first thing and it won’t be pushed off later.
  • Better health – waking up early naturally boosts energy and mood.
  • Time with family – invested morning time while loved ones are still home.

Rising early takes self-discipline but yields many spiritual and practical rewards for those willing to sacrifice the extra sleep.

How to Cultivate the Habit of Rising Early

If you want to embrace the biblical discipline of waking up early, here are some practical tips to get started:

  • Go to bed earlier – turn in 8 or 9 hours before you want to wake up. Being well-rested makes rising easier.
  • Have a purpose – know what you want to accomplish in the morning – prayer, Bible reading, etc. Have a plan.
  • Pray for discipline – ask God to motivate you to get up rather than hit snooze.
  • Have a consistent wake-up time – pick a time and stick with it every day, even weekends, until it becomes habit.
  • Get ready for bed the night before – lay out clothes, lunch, bags, etc. to prevent morning scrambling.
  • Ease into it – if you currently wake up at 8 am, go to 7:45 for a week, then 7:30, etc. until you reach your goal wake-up time.
  • Get enough sleep – aim for 7-9 hours per night. Too little sleep will backfire and just make rising hard.
  • Go right into your routine – open your Bible, start the coffee, etc. Don’t get distracted back into bed.
  • Make your bedroom just for sleeping – remove TVs and other distractions so your mind associates the room with just rest.
  • Exercise first thing – this boosts energy fast. But make sure to keep it low intensity.
  • Stick with it through early failures – it takes 4-6 weeks to cement a habit. You may falter but don’t give up.

With some adjustments and perseverance, anyone can transform into a morning person within a month or so. You will reap the benefits quickly.


While the Bible does not dogmatically command that believers must wake up early, it consistently portrays it as a wise and beneficial habit practiced by godly heroes of the faith. Many were prompted to rise early by God Himself and encountered His presence and voice most vividly in the pre-dawn hours.

Jesus modeled a habit of rising very early to pray, commune with the Father, and prepare His heart before ministering to the crowds. He was empowered and guided by His morning devotional times.

Waking early provides unique spiritual benefits like solitude, stillness, and extended time to pray, read Scripture, worship, and intercede before the busyness of life intrudes. It also yields many practical benefits.

Developing the habit does require self-control and going to bed earlier. But cultivating this practice can draw you closer to the Lord and allow you to begin each day aligned to His will and filled with His Spirit. The rewards are well worth the sacrifice of extra sleep. As Psalm 5:3 exhorts: “In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.” (NIV)

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