“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went to a desolate place, and there he prayed,” – Mark 1:35
For the past year and a half or so, I’ve had a pretty consistent, early-morning schedule for work – with this past week being an exception. And although I’ve moved around Eugene a couple times, my morning routine has remained relatively the same: Get up, eat breakfast, drink a cup of coffee, hop in the shower, get dressed, pour more coffee into a travel mug and then head off to work. If I’m paying attention, it only takes me half an hour or forty minutes to do all that. But on several occasions in the past month or so, I’ve added something to that routine. I’ve added God.
One morning I woke up around 5:30 and could not go back to sleep. So I simply got up and went about my routine. When I was ready to off to work – a solid hour and fifteen minutes early – I decided I’d read a chapter of Proverbs. And when I flew through that, I read a chapter from John’s Gospel. When I still had extra time, I jotted down a few notes for blog outlines and set a small to-do list for when I was off of work. When it came time to head out the door, not only did I feel more productive, I felt more awake.
Yes, the coffee helped. But coffee doesn’t make you more aware of spiritual realities in a material world. God does. And when you start with reading Scripture – and actually paying attention to what you’re reading – and praying, you set your mind onto more important things. Your mindset becomes that of someone dwelling in a different kingdom. You begin saying kinder things to your coworkers, literally helping your neighbors “just because,” or even sending quick messages to friends and family members reminding them that you care about them – nothing dramatic, but yet powerful.
If you think about all the things you do for your morning routine, there’s always a purpose for each one. I eat breakfast so I have energy to go about the day. I drink coffee so that I have even more energy to go about the day. And I shower, brush my teeth, and get dressed so that working with me is more enjoyable (or at least less miserable?). Why do all these things matter? They matter because I value my job, my involvement with my surrounding communities, and what kind of reputation and legacy I’m leaving behind. But what matters more?
Paul tells us to do everything for the glory of God. That means even the menial work we do at our jobs. No, God doesn’t want me to sell more Duck gear; but He does want me to interact with my coworkers (and customers) in a manner that reflects Him. In order to do that, though, I must practice acting like Him. Wouldn’t it be helpful, then, if I started my day with Him?
I don’t think it matters how much of our mornings we spend with God, but rather that we spend time with Him. God is extremely personal and relational. His desire is to know us and for us to know Him. Working jobs, serving our communities, and whatever else we do all come as a by-product of seeking Him. If the routines to start our day don’t include Him, then we’re less likely to act like Him.
I’d like to advise certain ways of seeking Him like praying in the shower or on the drive to work, but frankly, those only work for certain people at certain points. I used to pray on the drive to work, but it’s become exceedingly difficult because there are other cars that through off my focus – kind of like how they interrupt those phone calls or text conversations (sarcasm). And praying the shower can amp up the water usage and takes away hot water for roommates (sorry Mikey), so that’s not the best route, either. All I recommend is find a time at the start of your day to find God.
Doesn’t need to be twenty minutes or a half hour; just long enough that you feel Him surround you. And it does need to be focused so if reading Scripture on your phone or tablet becomes too much of a distraction, then turn them off or simply read from your paperback Bible (I know, old school). Even if all you can muster is a mere two minutes, it’d be worth it.