The word “routine” sounds so mundane.
The word “ritual” sounds slightly “new-agey” to some.
I think a ritual makes more sense. If you’re wanting to start every day with God, you want to have a set way of doing things. Routines are for going through the motions. Rituals are for intentional repetition.
Let’s craft a morning ritual with God.
My Morning Ritual
My mornings have changed over the years. I change them to fit my life, and my life changes often.
In the last few years I’ve had many different battle rhythms. I’ve worked at a fairly slow military base, worked at one of the busiest bases, and deployed for seven months. That doesn’t include all of the other traveling I’ve done for work and leisure. And I’ve done my best to stick with a morning ritual.
I’ve had a schedule where I woke up at 0530, 0430, and now 0300.
Here’s my current ritual:
- 0300: Coffee (I’ve been using an Italian Moka pot.)
- 0320: Prayer (I have a list of daily prayer, reminders and affirmations.)
- 0330: Listen to God (This is the hardest part of my morning. It’s difficult to stop my mind from working. Sometimes meditation beforehand is helpful.)
- 0345: Read my Bible (I’m finishing up a deep study that went through all 66 books of the Bible – I only have one book left before I get to create a new plan.)
- 0415: Write for Freedom Sprout
- 0515: Write and schedule articles for MoneyMiniBlog
- 0600: Get the kids up for school
After 0600, I take the kids to the bus stop, exercise (usually squadron PT), and go to work.
I wake up so early because my work schedule shifted to an earlier reporting time, and I will do whatever it takes to keep my morning ritual, as long as it doesn’t have an effect on my family time.
This is one of the most productive morning rituals I’ve ever done.
How to Start a Morning Ritual
I used to wake up and write for a few minutes, and then go to work. Later on, I added Bible reading. And so on, and so on…
Once I got intentional about crafting an actual morning ritual, it started to come together quickly.
The first step, for most people, is waking up earlier than you do right now – adding time to your day. Be intentional about using the morning hours for all their worth, and they’re worth a lot! Here’s a small snapshot of morning value:
- Peace and quiet. If you live with someone, especially young children, you may have a hard time finding a quiet place to do anything. Waking up before everyone else will give you the peace and quiet you need.
- Your time. You need time to yourself. For yourself. Waking up early is a great way to get that time. Many successful people spend the first hours of each day alone to reflect, think, meditate, and grow.
- Your happiness. Morning people are generally happier than evening people. One study showed that morning people are less likely to be depressed than people who work in the evenings.
- Accomplishing goals. Morning people are more likely to set and achieve goals. Waking up earlier allows you to plan for the day, which means you can plan to make progress towards your goals.
I can get more done before 0800 than I can the rest of the day.
How to Wake Up Earlier
I’ve written numerous articles, and even a book. Here’s the meat and potatoes of how to wake up earlier:
- Make a gradual change. Like anything else, if you start this in full force tomorrow by waking up five hours earlier than you usually do, you’re going to fail. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Start by waking up 15 minutes earlier than normal. Then wake up 15 minutes earlier than that every few days. Slowly adopt this new habit.
- Find your reward. Think of something you would really look forward to. It could be a steaming cup of coffee or tea. It could be a large breakfast. It could even be an early morning walk. Find something that motivates you and look forward to it every morning.
- Start with your passion. What’s your passion? Reading? Writing? Working out? As humans, we are most disciplined in the things we are most passionate about. Start your day with something you’re passionate about and you’ll be much more likely to get up and do it.
- Move your alarm clock. Once you’re out of bed, you’re less likely to go back to sleep. Move your alarm clock to a shelf across the room. This is a great way to make sure you get out of bed. Once you’re up, stay up. And wake up to a pleasant sound, not an ear-shattering beep.
- Wake up at the same time. If you go to sleep and wake up around the same time each day, you’ll condition your body to naturally be tired and wake up at those times. If this doesn’t work with the hours at your job, try to stay on a schedule as much as possible.
- Use natural light. Since you’re reading this, you probably prefer waking up before the natural light of the sun is shinning through your window, but you can find a natural light alarm clock that will do the trick. Natural light helps your body to naturally feel awake.
- Understand sleep cycles. One sleep cycle is about 90 minutes, so plan to sleep for a number of hours that’s a multiple of 90. For most adults, 7.5 or 9 hours is a good goal to strive for. Worst case scenario, sleep for at least 6 hours. If you wake up just before your alarm, go ahead and get up; your sleep cycle is over. You can always try the Sleep Cycle alarm clock. It monitors your heart rate and attempts to wake you up once your sleep cycle is over.
- Get moving. You don’t have to head to your local CrossFit box or run a marathon, but get your blood pumping as soon as your get out of bed. A quick walk or a few minutes of jumping jacks will do the trick. Just do something that wakes your body up physically.
- Change your mindset. If you dread mornings, change your mindset. Start looking forward to them and all the productivity they bring. I know it’s possible to shift your mindset, because I am a self-made morning person. It wasn’t natural at first, but now it is.
A productive morning starts the night prior, so you have to plan ahead. You’re more likely to get up if everything is ready to go. Want to go run first thing? Put out your running clothes. Want to read your Bible first thing? Put it by your chair.
And getting good sleep is equally important for actually getting up, so I have some tips.
Quick Tips for Better Sleep
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol within the last eight hours of your day.
- Get a high quality mattress and pillow. They make a difference.
- Make sure the temperature is at a comfortable setting for you.
- Avoid heavy meals at night. They decrease sleep quality.
- Avoid “blue light” during the last few hours before bed.
- Use visualizations when going to sleep. They are quite effective.
- Use sleep technologies, such as black out curtains and sleep monitors.
- Exercise regularly. Studies have shown that people who do, sleep better.
Spending Your Morning With God
Reading your Bible is super important, but prayer, silence and solitude have proven to be more important in my life.
Start small and build the habit.
Your entire morning doesn’t have to be dedicated to prayer and silence. Do what feels right in the beginning, because if you make it a chore, you won’t stick with it. Make it easy.
Craft your morning ritual around your life. Be reasonable and realistic.
Most importantly: start immediately.
You don’t have to get it right, you just have to get started.