There is something about the morning that lends itself to worship.
The stillness. The quiet. The newness of the day. The beauty of the morning had been completely lost on me until six years ago. Up to that point, I had been a lover of sleep, craving ten or more hours of sleep a night.
My love affair with sleep ended abruptly with the birth of my daughter, however. Kids have a way of doing that to you. Suddenly, my luxurious nine-hour sleep schedule was shattered into a series of two and three-hour naps. I struggled to adjust to my lack of sleep throughout her whole first year.
Seven months into motherhood, broken and exhausted, I asked the Lord to help me find rest in my new sleepless reality. His response was not what I was expecting:
“Wake up an hour earlier than J and sit with me,” I heard Him say.
“No, Lord,” I resisted, “I said I’m not getting enough sleep. Losing another hour isn’t going to help.”
But again I heard, “Wake up and sit with me”.
So, I trusted Him. I dedicated the next 28 days to trying it God’s way. I committed to waking up at 5 o’clock in the morning and spending time with God. Most days I did it. A few days I did not. Through it all, I learned the power of resting in the Lord before a day full of mothering. Six years later, I am still enjoying the abundant benefits of waking up early and sitting with God. Not every morning…but most.
Mama, I know how crazy it sounds to wake up at 5 and spend time with God. I know how everything in you might recoil at the thought. But I also know the incredible beauty of starting the day with God and I’d love to help you discover it for yourself. Below I’ll share six tips I have discovered over the years that helped me establish a rhythm of morning quiet times with God.
1. Seek to create a rhythm, not a routine.
The word “rhythm” speaks of cycles and seasons, ebbs and flows. It speaks of grace and flexibility. As you begin waking up with the Lord, remember it’s about developing a rhythm that fosters a relationship, not a routine that stems from obligation. As you’ll see in the tips below, there’s a great deal of freedom in how we spend time with God each morning. The point, however, is to begin our mornings hearing of the Lord’s unfailing love for us so we can live our days out of that truth (Psalm 143:8).
2. Prepare the night before
According to Jewish tradition, our days begin at sunset- not midnight. This practice is derived from the story of creation, where the author writes, “There was evening and there was morning- the third day” (Gen 1:13) Borrowing from this tradition, I began to see my day beginning the evening before and began to prepare for a successful quiet time before I went to sleep. These preparations included setting up my coffee pot to begin brewing at 5:00 a.m. and setting up my space with a blanket, my Bible, and a notebook. Because sleep is vital to my ability to function, I also began enforcing a pretty strict bedtime, allowing for a full 8 hours of sleep. This, of course, meant sacrificing some Netflix time in the evening, but it made a huge difference! Preparing the evening before mentally prepared me to wake up the next morning. I was much less likely to hit snooze if I knew everything was ready and waiting for me.
3. Pray for the desire to wake up
Like all things in our spiritual life, we have to begin by recognizing that because of sin we are unable to accomplish anything good on our own. Even Paul confesses, “For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out” (Rom 7:18). It is of the utmost importance then, that each night as we set our alarm to wake the next morning we ask the Lord to please give us the desire to get up. My prayer is often something like this: “Father, I know you are calling me to seek you. Draw me in and grant me the ability to seek Your face.” (Ps. 27:8) He has always been faithful to answer that prayer- even if it meant sending my cat to kick me in the face at 5 am. True story.
4. Take baby steps
I once read an article in which the author suggested putting the Word wherever you already are. For example, if you typically check your email before you get out of bed, subscribe to a devotional or a Bible reading plan that will deliver scripture to your inbox each morning. Then, when you instinctively reach for your phone and check your email, you can begin with Scripture. I found that once I had read something, even if only a few verses, I was awake enough to roll out of bed and continue with the rest of my quiet time.
5. Be creative
Perhaps one of the best tips I could give for establishing a quiet time rhythm is to be creative in your time with the Lord. This is one area where you’ll want a rhythm, not a routine. For example, while there are days I want to read a chapter or two of Scripture and pray, there are other days when I’m in a more contemplative mood and wish to sit and listen to worship music the whole time. I sometimes like to integrate yoga into my quiet time, reciting Scripture with each pose. Or I might participate in a guided meditation on Scripture. Still other days I may work on my community Bible study. The beauty of spending time with the Lord each morning is that no morning has to be the same. His Spirit can communicate with you in any number of ways, as long as you make time to be still before Him and listen.
6. It’s not all or nothing
In the six years that I have been practicing a morning quiet time, there have been days, weeks, and even an occasional month where I have not gotten up and spent time with the Lord. Newborns, illnesses, and trips tend to break up our routines and can represent a downturn in our rhythms. It is tempting to stop getting up altogether when it’s been a week or so since your last quiet time. But I want to encourage you not to take an “all or nothing” approach with your quiet times. Lamentations 3:23 tells us “His mercies are new every morning”, If God sees each morning as a new opportunity to reveal Himself to us, we should too. Don’t let a string of missed mornings keep you from waking up the next morning and starting again. Remember: it’s a rhythm, not a routine. It’s a relationship, not a regimen.
Cheering you on, Mama!
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