“O LORD, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch” (Psalm 5:3).
It’s a new year — a chance for a fresh start, in the same way that every morning is the opportunity for a fresh start. Every day we get to start out new. Every day gives us the opportunity to do better than the day before. As I enter this new year, I am praying for the discipline to better use my early morning hours.
When our children were little, I was extremely disciplined about getting up an hour ahead of the earliest riser. That was my survival hour! My day was usually a disaster when I missed my time in the Word and in writing my list of tasks I needed and hoped to do during the day.
Now that the demands in my life are different (not less, just different), it’s become easy to be a bit more lax in my approach to the beginning of my day. The smart phone that tells me what time it is when I wake up also makes it much easier to waste time as I ease my way into consciousness. As nice as it is to greet the day with the Bible verses that Word Alert posts for me each day, I need sturdy resolve to just read the verse without moving on from there to look for pictures of my too-cute grandchildren on Instagram and Facebook. I need to save Tim Challies and other interesting blogs for later in the day when I’m not as equipped for thinking creatively. And I definitely don’t need to check Pinterest for new recipes or craft ideas — at least not at the beginning of the day.
Instead, I want to focus on the tasks that I will probably never get around to if I don’t do them first thing in the day, before the full force of everything-that-has-to-be-done hits me. For me, that definitely includes reading my Bible. No matter how determined I am when I try to do this later in the day, it rarely seems to happen. For me, morning is best. So that is a non-negotiable in my morning routine.
I’ve been reading a little book called What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast. I’m not worried about being one of the most successful people (whatever that may mean), but I am interested in ideas for better using the gift of time that God has entrusted to me. The author, Laura Vanderkam, sites another book, The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor, in her discussion of morning rituals. Mr. Achor, a night owl by nature, trained himself to become a morning person by creating rituals that made him excited to get out of bed.
I can relate to this wisdom. When I’m really digging into a particular passage of the Bible, I’m excited to get up and get started! This idea of creating inspiring morning rituals has also inspired me — an overly tasked-oriented person — to take a few minutes each morning to do something I always want to do, but seldom take the time to do once the day gets rolling. I’m taking a few minutes to write a short note, email, or message — of appreciation to someone who has blessed or encouraged me, or of comfort and encouragement to someone who is facing difficulties and challenges.
I’m excited about the possibilities of this new morning activity! So many people have enriched my life. So many daily show me God’s love and faithfulness. So many encourage and pray for me. Now I have a specific time when I get to thank and encourage them. I’m looking forward to starting each day by thinking about, thanking, and praying for at least one of those people! I’ve added some cards and stamps to my Bible study basket, and I am already anticipating the great restraint I will need to exercise when I choose to write to someone via email or Facebook. No detours will be allowed!
I am well aware of the fact that I start my day out with many less urgent demands than those of you with young children. Your morning routine will look very different than mine. But what would you ideally like your morning to look like? What’s important? What will you not get to if you don’t do it first thing in the morning? What steps can you take to make it happen?
If you’re struggling to find a time to get into God’s Word each day, could you rearrange your schedule to make even five minutes for this in the morning? (Check out this post and this post for ideas.) Are you staying up at night doing things that don’t really matter, and too tired to get up and get a good start on the day? Are you using time in the morning doing things that your children could — and should — be doing instead of you? Would a bit of organizing or purposeful planning improve your mornings?
Do you need a little boost to keep you focused in your Bible reading? If you need some encouragement, check out the 30-Days Bible studies in our archives here. We have four different month-long studies available for free — Colossians 3, Psalm 37, 1 Corinthians 13, and Philippians 2 — all designed for busy mothers. Use one of those to get you started. (If you would rather work with an ebook or print copy of the study, Colossians 3 and Psalm 37 can be purchased in those formats.)
What ritual can you create that will make you excited about getting up? Special coffee in a pretty mug along with your Bible study? Greeting your husband with a hot cup of coffee and a warm smile as he gets ready for work? A just-you-and-her special snuggle time or activity with that early riser who always gets up before everyone else? A few minutes of quiet reading before your feet hit the floor? A candle lit in the bathroom as you prepare yourself for the day, while memorizing a verse or two or listening to hymns or praise music? How about an early morning story time with the kids before you all tackle the day?
Each day is a gift! We need to open that gift with gratitude and with a thankful sense of responsibility! If you haven’t already done so, take a few minutes to reevaluate the way you start your day! We can almost always improve things with a bit of prayerful thought and self-discipline. Do it for thirty days, and you’ll have developed a habit that won’t take so much effort anymore!