Do you bounce out of bed and hit the ground running? Or do you need to be dragged from your bed kicking and screaming? I fall into the latter category. Although I have great intentions, I often hit the snooze button for “just five more minutes.” The result is that I’m often pushed for time, rushing through my morning routine, and launching myself into the day without giving much thought to my spiritual life.
But the way we start the day can make all the difference to how the rest of our day goes. When I begin by focusing on God, I feel less stressed and worried throughout the rest of the day because I’m more likely to remember to give my problems and joys to him. Of course, we can’t all necessarily devote hours to morning devotions, but lately, I’ve been trying to reorganize my mornings so I make time with God a priority rather than tackling the first item on my to-do list.
Here are some of the practices I’ve used to help focus my mind on God and give the coming day to him.
Prepare the night before
This approach may not sound overly spiritual, but planning ahead for the next day means I’m less rushed in the morning. As a freelancer, I’m lucky that most times I can set my own schedule – you may have lunches to prepare, work clothes to get ready, and school drop-off to navigate. Using the evening before to prep and getting to bed at a sensible hour (something I’m admittedly not good at) can really help get your day off to a better, calmer start.
Focus on God before getting out of bed
I used to set my radio alarm to hear the news before rising, but I’ve stopped because it feels like too much distraction first thing in the morning. Instead, I’ve set my phone alarm to play an inspiring spiritual song – just 30 seconds of ringtone starts my morning off on a spiritual foot.
I’ve also put reminders within easy reach of the bed – Post-It notes with a scripture verse, an embellished card with a spiritual quote, or an inspiring photo. And rather than groaning and turning over when I wake, I’m trying to offer a short prayer of thanks for the gift of a new day.
Read the Bible
I like to spend a little time each morning in morning devotions — intentional time with God through prayer, Bible reading, and other spiritual practices. I usually start by reading a Bible passage. There are lots of places to find these, like Catholic Online, which has a video of the lectionary reading for the day. (Don’t get sucked into checking your Instagram feed though!) I also have a daily Bible reading emailed to me each morning. You can sign up for the daily readings from the U.S. Conference of Bishops here.
Say a prayer
There are many creative ways to pray – you don’t always need to shut your eyes and bow your head, although quietness definitely has its place. Sometimes I’ll use an online resource like this video about praying the Rosary.
I also love to use coloring sheets or prayer prompts. Sometimes, I’ll just use a blank sheet and see how God leads me. I also have a creative prayer prompts book filled with photos of my family, inspiring words, and images to inspire my prayers. I can look at these prompts so I don’t leave someone out when I’m praying!
Write in the morning
Some mornings, I start the day with writing. The practice of morning pages (from Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way”) involves getting down a few pages of “stream of consciousness” writing to unload clutter in your mind. This series of videos can help you get started. Or sometimes I’ll do personal journaling, where I record things God lays on my heart, perhaps from my daily Bible reading. There are online courses to introduce you to journaling if you’ve never tried it before. Or check out these prompts to inspire you.
Give your plans for the day to God
I’m always conscious that I don’t know what the coming day will hold, even if I think I have it well planned. I’m learning that God wants to be involved in every aspect of my life, so actively giving my (expected) day to God, and thanking him for it, is also becoming part of my morning intentions. Sometimes this is a quick run-through of my day over coffee, but it helps me remember that God is in charge, not me.
Of course, some mornings, everything falls apart. We can all have a bad morning! But I’ve noticed that intentionally starting my day with God rather than getting swamped by the craziness of everyday life, is making a difference in my focus throughout the rest of the day. I’m drawn back to God throughout the highs and lows of my day, ultimately strengthening my faith.