I’ve spent most of my adult life as a Christian having “morning prayer time” as a “that’d be really nice’ kind of goal, but it was a goal that always felt like a dream that I’d get to…someday. I’ll start that when that baby sleeps through the night. I’ll start when things aren’t so stressful. I’ll start when the kids are older. I’ll start when I’m stronger in my faith. Truth be told, I’ve started and stopped over the years at least half a dozen times.
Ever since we joined Domestic Church a few years ago, my promise to spend committed time each day in personal prayer and in study of Scripture has been through many evolutions in how I’ve tried to do it. From reading a verse-of-the-day on my phone half-asleep at night, to trying to find an open window during the morning or the children’s naptime, to the carpool line, to procrastinating all day to look for that perfect prayer time slot to open up and it not happening at all.
For the past few months, though, I felt that consistent prayer time was something the Holy Spirit was asking me to figure out how to do. Even with a young nursing baby. Even as an oft-frazzled homeschooling mother of four young children who lots of well-meaning people would tell to “take it easy.” I just couldn’t shake the fact that I knew, deep in my soul, that a consistent morning prayer time would certainly make me grow in relationship with Him, be a better wife and mother, and allow Him to establish more order in my spiritual life. All much-needed and much-desired things for me. And, most importantly I think, I felt like it was His desire for me at this point in my life.
Praying at the kids’ naptime wasn’t working out for me (every day is so different schedule-wise and because…kids). Praying in the evening was most definitely not working out for me (because…too tired). I had to be honest enough with myself to realize that I personally needed to get up at a certain time every day and pray. And some things would have to change to make that happen.
So, long-ish story short…I’ve been praying every morning for a while now in my little prayer spot on the front room couch. I’ve been getting up to spend time praying with Scripture, and talking to God in thanksgiving and in supplication and asking Him for my daily marching orders. And it’s been awesome. Praise God!
No, all my problems aren’t solved. My children and my marriage and my house and my relationships and my prayer life aren’t suddenly perfect. But grace runs through this girl and this home more abundantly these days. I really believe that.
Here are three very simple, very practical reasons I think this spiritual habit is finally sticking for me.
I found accountability partners
It was my spiritual director who had the bright idea to find a friend to help me. I literally asked him to pray over me to ask God to make me stronger to be able to roll out of bed each day…and he interrupted me and said, “Not until you promise me you’ll text me the name of your accountability partner by tomorrow evening.” (Bam. He does that a lot.) So, I actually ended up finding several friends in similar seasons of their lives who also desired to make morning prayer a consistent habit. Because trying to do it on my own strength wasn’t working out. If I don’t text my girlfriends at least an “up” by a certain time each morning, they give me a call to wake me up. For some reason, me dreading my phone ringing shrilly at the crack of dawn in my nice, quiet house is quite the motivator for me. Sometimes, the girls and I share prayer intentions for the day; often, we share encouragement. It’s been an unexpected blessing of spiritual sisterhood for all of us.
I go to bed on time.
Did I mention that my baby doesn’t sleep through the night yet? A while back during one of our monthly Couple Dialogues, I told Michael that I knew I needed to start going to bed by 9:30pm at the latest. I would literally be so tired in the morning that often I would be tempted to burst into tears when I woke up and saw the light peeking in through the window. Every morning, I felt like I had been run over by a truck. And forget about being able to pray more than a desperate, pitiful sort of “Jesus help me I’m so tired please bless the day Amen.” Going to bed by 9:30 (latest) helped me to physically cope with not sleeping through the night. It’s been a sacrifice to give up time with Michael in the evenings, but it actually has made Michael and me be more consistent about getting the children to bed on time. Also, it motivated me to get more organized and intentional (for my marriage’s sake!) with getting Roman on a better schedule of daytime feedings, which actually has improved his nighttime sleeping a little.
I get up on time.
Words have power. Try this: Say “I get up early.” Now say, “I get up on time.” For some reason, changing the way I talked about getting up in the morning for prayer helped me change my attitude about it. It helped me to own it. This is me. This isn’t just “a nice thing to do.” It’s just what I do.
See how simple these ideas were? So simple, and yet it took me a long time to put them together. In the end, it’s all grace. I think that for me, maybe it took coming to a point in my life when I realize deep in my very bones that I need God–more God, all of God, all of me giving myself to all of Him–if I’m going to do anything worthwhile whatsoever. Like St. Augustine said, we must work like everything depends on us, and pray like everything depends on Him.
Now, if you’re reading this post and you’re one of those people being all like “that’s so great and I’m so weak and I’m just not there I guess [with morning prayer or whatever it is]…”, please just don’t.:) Our wonderful Lord is doing good work in you, is still drawing you to Himself and working to bless others through you, in whatever efforts you are doing. Just because your prayer life doesn’t look a certain way, or look like somebody’s else’s, doesn’t mean that God isn’t busy doing lots and lots with whatever you’re offering Him of yourself.
I think that’s part of the way of spiritual childhood–just reminding yourself all the time that God’s ways are so far above our ways, and that He couldn’t possibly love you any more or less no matter how good or bad you are, and trusting that He’s doing and completing good work in you even when you can’t feel it. In reminding ourselves of each of those truths, I think we naturally develop a desire to do the kinds of things that will help us to know, love and serve our loving God more and more.