William Law’s book “A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life” is a convicting work that is certainly worthy of its status as a classic in Christian literature. In chapter 14 of that work he writes (emphasis mine):
I take it for granted, that every Christian, that is in health, is up early in the morning; for it is much more reasonable to suppose a person up early, because he is a Christian, than because he is a labourer, or a tradesman, or a servant, or has business that wants him.
We naturally conceive some abhorrence of a man that is in bed, when he should be at his labour, or in his shop. We cannot tell how to think anything good of him, who is such a slave to drowsiness, as to neglect his business for it.
Let this therefore teach us to conceive, how odious we must appear in the sight of heaven, if we are in bed, shut up in sleep and darkness, when we should be praising God; and are such slaves to drowsiness, as to neglect our devotions for it.
For if he is to be blamed as a slothful drone, that rather chooses the lazy indulgence of sleep, than to perform his proper share of worldly business; how much more is he to be reproached, that had rather lie folded up in a bed, than be raising up his heart to God in acts of praise and adoration?
Prayer is the nearest approach to God, and the highest enjoyment of him, that we are capable of in this life.
It is the noblest exercise of the soul, the most exalted use of our best faculties, and the highest imitation of the blessed inhabitants of heaven.
When our hearts are full of God, sending up holy desires to the throne of grace, we are then in our highest state, we are upon the utmost heights of human greatness; we are not before kings and princes, but in the presence and audience of the Lord of all the world, and can be no higher, till death is swallowed up in glory.
On the other hand, sleep is the poorest, dullest refreshment of the body, that is so far from being intended as an enjoyment, that we are forced to receive it either in a state of insensibility, or in the folly of dreams.
Sleep is such a dull, stupid state of existence, that even amongst mere animals, we despise those most, which are most drowsy.
He therefore that chooses, to enlarge the slothful indulgence of sleep, rather than be early at his devotions to God, chooses the dullest refreshment of the body, before the highest, noblest employment of the soul; he chooses that state, which is a reproach to mere animals, rather than that exercise, which is the glory of Angels.
You will perhaps say, though you rise late, yet you are always careful of your devotions when you are up.
It may be so. But what then? Is it well done of you to rise late, because you pray when you are up? Is it pardonable to waste great part of the day in bed, because some time after you say your prayers?
It is as much your duty to rise to pray, as to pray when you are risen. And if you are late at your prayers, you offer to God the prayers of an idle, slothful worshipper, that rises to prayers, as idle servants rise to their labour.