If you’re like me, you’d rather just sleep in every morning. But that doesn’t accomplish much.
I remember days in my early 30s when I eagerly rose from bed at 5:30 a.m., spent some precious time in prayer and Bible study, and then showered and got on with an extremely productive day.
Now that I’m past 40, it’s not nearly as easy to rise and shine and conquer like I used to. Seems like there’s this added weight of obligations, age, physical wear and tear, and, sometimes, just plain weight! I’d just as soon let the snooze alarm go off a few times and lay there in bed thinking about what I’d do if I just had a little more energy. That’s where the “will” comes in. The will to start the day right.
As I lie in bed, I must remember that the day was not created for me and whatever I want to do. There’s Someone Else in the picture. And what is His idea of why I was given one more day?
When you go to God first in the morning, through prayer, it is reaffirming to Him and to yourself that He is the single most important love of your life. Think about it. When you get exciting news, whom do you want to share it with first? When you get heartbreaking news, to whom do you tell so you can find comfort and understanding? When you go to God first with all that is on your heart and mind, it reminds you that He comes first and it keeps you in perspective for the rest of the day.
Here are six ways starting every morning with prayer improves your whole day:
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1. Starting your day in prayer reminds you of your purpose.
The Westminster Confession says: “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” You and I were created to have a relationship with the living God. That’s an amazing concept if you think about it. In fact, when I focus on that concept as soon as I wake up, it’s enough to get me out of bed in the first place as I realize that my Creator is waiting to enjoy the day with me. If it were the other way around, I’d probably wait until I felt like being with God. But He is always waiting for you and me. And who are we to let the God of the Universe wait?
When you go to Him in prayer, before you even get up, or as you’re getting up, or as soon as you get up, you are reminded that life is about the relationship with God, enjoying Him, serving Him, obeying Him, pleasing His heart. Psalm 16:11 says “In His presence is fullness of joy.” Be in His presence, through prayer, and experience the joy of being in His will, first thing in the morning.
2. Starting your morning in prayer helps you sharpen your focus.
The Apostle Paul said in Philippians 3:13-14 “This one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on…” What did he press on toward? The prize – the relationship with God. In spite of everything, Paul knew the one thing he needed to do was to keep his relationship with God a priority.
What is the one thing you must do each day? Maybe your answer is “I must take care of my children.” Or, “I must complete that assignment.” Maybe it’s even “I must get through this day.” Yet God tells us in Matthew 6:33 that He “will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern” (NLT). By going to God in prayer you are showing Him that you know the one thing you must do each day (prioritize your relationship with God) and all the other things will fall into place.
Through the past 30 years, I’ve found that when I take the time to start my day off right – by rising a little earlier so I have time to get quiet and spend some time talking to God – I am able to focus first and foremost on the one thing that is most important (my relationship with God) and then the other things I need to do fall amazingly into place.
3. Starting your day with prayer will increase your productivity.
I’m pretty sure the more time I spend praying in the morning the more I’ll get done throughout the day. On the contrary, when I tend to skip time with God in the morning, I feel like I’m chasing my tail and trying to catch up for the rest of the day. How is this so? Contrary to what you might think, investing in your relationship with God first thing in the morning will not hurt your productivity, your income, your business opportunities, or cause you to run behind all day. God is not the kind of God who will punish you or cause you to falter by prioritizing Him. On the contrary, God had a way of honoring our time and helping us be more productive in our day when we first honor Him. And by taking to Him first all that we have to do each day, we are also releasing it to His control, which removes from us the weight and burden of feeling we have to control all the day’s events. That release of stress helps me be more productive. It also helps me live less anxiously since I’m reminded I’m not in control of anything, after all.
God’s Word says “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about what happens to you” (1 Peter 5:7 NLT). There is a tremendous amount of refreshment that comes from handing over to God – early in the day – all that concerns us and weighs us down. Then He fills us with His peace and the energy we need to be productive throughout the day.
4. Starting your day with prayer will decrease your anxiety.
God must have known we’d stress about things. Perhaps that’s why He told us in Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (NLT).
By starting your day in quiet reflection and prayer, you are opening the channels of communication with God throughout the day, which is a reminder that you are never alone. It’s also helping you focus on Him being in control, and not you. Starting your day with prayer also ushers peace into your morning and keeps chaos from crashing into your day. So trade your worries for peace when you start every morning with prayer and it will improve your whole day.
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5. Starting your morning with prayer will help you find your hideaway with God.
King David, a man who was evidently stressed and run down at times, said: “The one thing I ask of the Lord – the thing I seek most – is to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, delighting in the Lord’s perfections and meditating in his Temple. For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock” (Psalm 27:4-5 NLT).
David was saying that of all the things he could have (and for a king, not too much is out of reach!) he wanted a hideaway with God – a place where he’d be concealed, hidden, out of reach from trouble. He found that place by meditating on the Lord, seeking His face, finding that quiet time to focus on God.
David also found that time in the morning. As busy as he was – running the kingdom of Israel, commander-in-chief of Israel’s army, husband to several wives, father to several children (and many of them quite dysfunctional) – he was obviously stressed at times. In one song he wrote: “Oh, how I wish I had wings like a dove; then I would fly away and rest! I would fly far away to the quiet of the wilderness. How quickly I would escape – far away from this wild storm…” (Psalm 55:6-8). Yes, David apparently experienced stress and burnout and at times must have felt he was running on empty. Yet we find throughout his songs, references to getting away with God in the morning – starting his day right…with prayer. “Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord,” David sang. “Each morning I bring my request to you and wait expectantly.” (Psalm 5:3, NLT)
6. Starting your day with prayer helps you tune in to the Spirit’s voice all day.
As you open the channels of communication with God in the morning, through prayer, you will be placing yourself on the “receiving end” of what He wants to say to you throughout the day. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God” (KJV). Listening for God’s still, quiet voice throughout the day tunes your ears to what He wants to say and keeps you in a “quiet mode” throughout the day. This will protect you from running at a pace that makes you feel you’re running on empty. If you can quiet your heart first thing in the morning, and keep that quiet heart throughout the day, then you will have found a way to carry your “sanctuary” with you throughout your work and activities and stay in a restful, quiet mode.
Now It’s Up to You
Can you meet with God for a few minutes each morning and therefore start your day right? Can you prayerfully reflect on His Word in order to compose your thoughts and prioritize your day? Can you remember that, above all things, your relationship with God is why you’re here? When that relationship is humming along, so will the rest of you.
By starting every morning with prayer you will get out of the habit of running harried and move into a slower mode of walking enjoyably through your day so you don’t find yourself running on empty at the end of the day.