establishing a morning routine

About a year ago, I decided my New Years resolution would be to wake up early for an hour of prayer time before I began my day.  And I (for the most part) stuck with it…pretty sure that has never happened before!!!  I am a morning person by nature, but I also really really like to sleep. My mornings used to look like a rush of coffee, quick 5-minute prayer, and, if it was a good day, I maybe fixed my hair.

But I realized that my 20ish minute morning routine just wasn’t working for me.  I felt restless and unprepared and guilty that I didn’t spend more time starting my day off with the Lord. 

When I decided to implement this hour of prayer, I noticed a peace about my day that was obviously lacking beforehand.  Of course, there were a few months that I didn’t wake up early to pray (because, you know, having a baby tends to change things a little), but once I got into my mama groove I started making prayer a priority before I did anything else. 

I try to make it work for whatever season I’m in, because I realize that without my morning time, my day is just off.  It’s not worth it anymore to sleep an extra hour and have my day be chaos.  It results in a frazzled wife and mama, and that just ain’t gonna fly when I know I can do better. 

***I also will note that if I do sleep later, I try to make prayer time happen during Pier’s first morning nap, but it’s just sooo much better if I do it before he wakes up.

My Ideal Morning:

I wake up at 5:30 and get my coffee brewing (a very important step).  As my coffee brews, I open my daily planner and ask God how He wants me to spend my time today.  It could be anything from “unload the dishwasher” to “remember to shower” to something a little more ambitious like “go for a run” or “make it to daily mass”.  I notice that this small act allows me to be more present to my day and helps me become intentional about how I spend my time.  It’s also oh so satisfying to scratch things off my to-do list. 

It’s the little things in life, you know?

When my coffee is finished, I grab my rosary and sit down in my prayer corner to start praying. If I don’t pray my rosary right away I have lingering anxiety that lasts until I find time to pray it! I find that it’s easier for me to meditate when I pray an audio scriptural rosary (you can find it anywhere online…I've used this one for years). 

Next, I pray a chapter from scripture or spiritual reading.  I narrowed down my spiritual reading books to these four: The Diary of St. Faustina, The Apostolate of Holy Motherhood, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, and They Way by St. Josemaria Escriva.  After reading scripture and/or one of these books, I reflect on what Christ is trying to speak to me through these words.  I then pick out a phrase or verse to write in my journal and carry those words with me throughout my day to meditate on.

This is usually all I have time for, but it's been especially fruitful when I have an opportunity to do it all!

it's Scriptural:

Why pray first thing in the morning?  Why can't you pray throughout your day or once the kids go to bed?  Well, of course you can...there are no rules about when you pray.  But I think it's not very difficult to understand why mornings are the best time to do this:  quite simply,  mornings offer us a time for quiet preparation before we begins the business of our day.  Our minds are refreshed, and we are much less distracted when we start our days off in quiet solitude with the Lord.

In fact, Jesus (and the saints!) found going off for long periods of time before dawn was the perfect time to pray.  Mark 1:35 shows us this:

In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.

Tips & Tricks:

You may be thinking, ok that’s easy for you to say, but HOW in the world do you make getting up at 5:30 bearable?! Well my friends, here are a few tips for you in case you perhaps feel called to this crazy morning method.

1.)  Comfort is key – Maybe it’s because I live in Indiana and am perpetually cold, but I noticed that having a comfy robe and slippers allows the transition from bed to out-of-bed to happen smoothly.  If I keep my robe right next to my nightstand, I know that I won’t have to suffer from the lack of warmth for very long. 

2.)  Establish your Motivation – you have to have something that will motivate you to get out of bed.  For me, this is a nice warm cup of coffee and Jesus.  I also realize that doing this will never be an easy thing. It's a sacrifice. So when my feet hit the floor, I briefly pray this prayer: “Jesus this is for love of you.  I know it’s small, but please use this sacrifice as reparation for the offenses committed against you and for the conversion of poor sinners”. When I pray something like this, that hard thing I'm doing becomes a bit easier because I'm doing it for the sake of someone else. 

3.)  Treat yo’self – Pretty things make me happy.  I find that an aesthetically pleasing journal or coffee mug gets me excited to be productive.  Is that weird? Probably. But it works for me.   Here's my favorite coffee mug, the journal I use, and my day planner

4.)  Be gentle – if you’re sick, or if you have a big life altering change going on (like a newborn) just go with it and wait until you feel ready to adopt something like this again.  For example, I was so sick my first trimester of pregnancy that I rarely devoted the time I needed to prayer.  I was in such a fog, a little bit depressed, and became extremely frustrated with feeling like I just couldn’t get life right.  Slowly but surely the fog began to clear, and I felt the Lord nudge my heart to come back to Him.  He is so patient…He understands our little struggles and just waits, gently, until we are ready to come back.  That’s how this morning method began because I knew I needed to change!  My point is – don’t be harsh on yourself.  If something like this happens to you, just be patient and when you feel ready to come back take the leap and go all in.      

5.)  But be faithful – All the Lord wants from me is to try my best.  My best isn't making excuses, it's recognizing that even when things get hard, I am faithful to the resolutions I make.  I hold on to the hope that if I remain faithful to these little things I do out of love for Him, then one day (by the grace of God) I will be a saint!

6.) Be intentional - Make the most of the time you have.  I've found that if I have designated a place in my house to pray, then I'm less likely to be distracted by all the things.  We recently made a prayer table in the corner of our living room with a crucifix, bible, statues, and spiritual reading books (pictured above). It's been such a gift to have a place I can go to throughout my day to pray, read, or regain my inner peace. 

Have I convinced you to become a morning person yet?!  Maybe you’re not ready to adopt this practice into your lives at this moment, but I hope it inspires you to make prayer your ultimate priority before you begin your day!