We all have a morning routine; the question is, what exactly is that routine? Is it methodical schedule you follow to a T? You know, 24oz of lemon water first thing, hot yoga, then directly into 15 minutes of gratitude journaling. Or maybe it’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach? Something along the lines of rolling out of bed 10 minutes before you need to be at work and chowing down on whatever food you happen to have in your center console. Even having no morning routine is a routine in and of itself.
Regardless of what your morning routine looks like, a successful day begins with time alone with God. Jesus demonstrated this in Mark 1:35, “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.”
Morning is a time to prepare for the day ahead, and because of that, your morning routine should renew your mind around the things of God, fill you with the Holy Spirit, and strengthen you for what the day will bring. Psalm 143:8 tells us to “let the morning bring word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” The truth is, your day is won or lost in the morning.
Here are three bulletproof ways to build an effective morning routine with God:
1. Structure your routine around disciplines and affections
Disciplines - 1 Timothy 4:7 tells us to discipline ourselves for godliness. In the same way that training for a sport or earning a degree requires resolute commitment, growing in knowledge and reverence of God also requires discipline. That means there will be mornings when you’re too tired, don’t have time or don’t feel like it, but stick with it. Disciplines are supposed to be hard sometimes, but just because it’s hard doesn’t mean it’s not working or not worth while. Change doesn’t happen in a day, but it must happen daily.
Affections - Ask yourself this: what specific things stir your heart for God? What opens your eyes to His goodness and grandeur? Listening to a favorite song? Walking to your favorite spot? Reading through old journal entries? For me, it’s solitude, a cup of coffee and nature (a sunrise over mountains to be exact.) Whatever they may be for you, do more of them.
2. Know your time, place and plan
Growing in meaningful time with God doesn’t happen by accident. I’m a firm believer in locking down when you’re doing it, where you’re doing it and what you’re reading. Do you need to set your alarm 30 minutes earlier in the morning? Are you going to do it in your favorite chair by the window? Or maybe your room where your roommates won’t disturb you? What chapter are you going through? What plan are you studying? Much like a specific training program or school curriculum, having a structured plan of attack helps you grow with purpose over a period of time. Maybe that looks like walking through a specific plan (He Reads Truth and She Reads Truth are excellent sources), studying a specific chapter in the Bible, or reading through the entire Bible - the options are countless.
3. Always be in the Word
We saved the best for last. It’s so simple, but so imperative. Developing as Christ followers means growing in our Bible literacy. Jen Wilkin puts it so well, “The heart can’t love what the mind doesn’t know.” Reading the Bible allows us to grow in our knowledge of God (His attributes, character and promises), which prepares and preserves us for the work and day ahead of us. Knowing God’s character and attributes has allowed me to walk through some of the most difficult seasons of my life. That knowledge is a hope you can hold onto - a hope that will sustain you, and it all happens when we become students of God’s Word. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that “all Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for instruction, for conviction, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, fully equipped for every good work." I love how Jimmy Needham puts it, “If we want to be about the work of God, we must first be about the word of God.”
I know you’re busy. You have a lot on your plate and a ton of responsibility. You have a family to lead, a profession to excel at, children to nurture, a team to grow and a million other things. But that’s exactly why you need to start your day rooted and strengthened in the things of God. You can’t afford not to start your day in God’s Word and prayer. Your family can’t afford you not to. Your community can’t afford you not to. And if you’re still thinking that you literally have no capacity to carve out the time for this, let me lovingly encourage you with this: if you’re too busy, you’re too busy.
One last thing - I think it’s easy to forget that our morning routines aren’t just times we get to spend with God, but also time He gets to spend with us. He delights in you. Psalm 147:11 tells us that “the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”
Your morning routine matters. Be intentional, draw near, and let God set the tone for your whole day.
Jared Iler // Creative Director at Humbled Daily.