It’s commonly held among professionals who have found worldly success that an intentional morning routine is key to achieving your goals. We’ve all heard about the high-powered individuals who wake early to read, exercise or meditate to get the day off on the right foot. They use the first moments of their day to set the tone and to encourage themselves to get the work done.
What if we applied this same mentality to our spiritual lives?
If you research productive morning routines, you’ll find that it’s not so much what people do (this varies from person to person, depending on their goals) but how they do it. They are consistent. They are focused. And they prepare the night before.
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Applying these principles to your prayer life can make a dramatic difference in your outlook on life, as well as on your relationship with the Lord, others and yourself. But that doesn’t mean you need to start getting up super early every day. Starting your day with 20 minutes of mental prayer is a beautiful practice, but it may not be what you need in your journey right now. There are considerable benefits to developing an impulse to give your day to God right away, even in just a few words. So, here are some tips.
1. Choose your prayer: With an awareness that the Lord hears you, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to a prayer with which you can start your day. It might be a traditional morning offering; a shortened consecration prayer, if you’ve already consecrated yourself to the Blessed Mother; or something as simple as, “Come, Holy Spirit.”
2. Set up reminders: Even if the prayer is short or something you know already, create a physical reminder for yourself as you build your habit. You could stick a Post-It note to your phone so you see it before you unlock your screen, or you can use a program like Canva to create a lock screen with your prayer on it. This sweet cling sticks to your bathroom mirror, so you can pray the morning offering as you brush your teeth.
3. Create backups: As excited as you may be about this now, we are all human, and it’s possible that over time, your enthusiasm will wane (I speak from experience!). My prayer of choice is the Litany of Trust by the Sisters of Life. It’s had a powerful impact in my life, and yet some mornings, I snooze my alarm away without praying, or I check my email or text messages before offering my prayer. I tell myself I’ll get to it soon, but then my baby cries or I get distracted.
I’ve developed a three-fold system to make sure I pray this litany every day and as early as possible. First, I have a hard copy of the prayer in plain sight, next to a comfy chair in my room. I also always have the PDF open in a tab on my phone so that I can access it anywhere in just a few swipes. And finally, I have a calendar I use to check off each day I say my prayer (actually, I draw a heart on the day).
This last tactic I thought was maybe a bit silly. I didn’t mean to think of my prayer as a chore I needed to do; prayer ought to be a conversation with the Lord. But I’ve learned that this little daily marking holds me accountable to being open to that conversation. It helps remind me that the distractions in my life are often just that — distractions. I need help keeping the Lord in the center of my life, and that is help the Lord is very willing to give, if I ask for it.
A daily morning offering helps me to keep Jesus first in my heart. When I give God my first and best energy, I am honoring and loving him. Offering myself to him no matter what the day may hold gives me strength to lean on him if things take a turn for the worse. Giving my “fiat” first thing sets the pace for me to continue doing so until I am back in bed that night, ready to rest in him once again.