Morning Routine

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.  -Mark 1:35

I’m endlessly fascinated by what makes people tick, and for as long as I’ve been a pastor I’ve studied the lives of people who are highly successful in their life’s calling. What I’ve learned has enriched my life. For instance, early on in ministry I discovered that every leader I admired was a voracious reader. “Leaders are life-long learners” one of my mentors used to say. I’ve been devouring books like chocolate chip cookies ever since.

Recently I’ve been reading a lot about morning routines. Many successful people swear that having a positive morning routine sets the trajectory for the rest of their day and helps them to be more effective.

Did you know that Ben Franklin woke before dawn every morning and blocked out three hours to plan his day? Each morning he reflected on the question, “What good shall I do today?”

Martin Luther had a morning routine as well. He once said, “Work, work, from morning until late at night. In fact, I have so much to do that I shall have to spend the first three hours in prayer!

And Scripture says that Jesus rose before dawn and found a quiet place to pray each morning.

Over the last few months I’ve experimented with a morning routine as a spiritual discipline, and I’ve been amazed at how helpful and powerful it’s been. Most mornings I get up two hours before I need to leave the house. I love the early morning quiet (a luxury I get to enjoy as an empty-nester). Here’s what I do in that time:

  • Make coffee – 5 min. (Ain’t nuthin’ happenin’ without coffee)
  • Meditate – 15 min. (I use an app called Calm. Headspace is another great app)
  • Read scripture or a devotion – 15 min.
  • Journal on what I’ve just read, and reflect on the previous day – 10 minutes
  • Read for personal growth – 15 min.
  • Plan my day – 15 min. (I use a Best Self journal, which includes daily gratitude)
  • Eat a healthy breakfast – 15 min.
  • Shower and dress – 15 min.
  • Go!

I don’t get it all done every day, but I do what I can and refuse to beat myself up when I can’t. And I’ve been amazed at how much more positive and productive my days are. In fact, I’ve come to believe that a positive morning routine becomes the fertile soil from which a productive day grows.

Want to start your own morning routine but don’t know where to begin? Here’s a 7-minute suggestion to start with:

  • Sit comfortably, close your eyes and take three deep breaths to slow your heart and mind – 1 min.
  • Ask yourself, “What am I grateful for today”? Whatever comes to mind, express your gratitude to God – 2 min.
  • Read one or two verses of scripture slowly a couple of times (I like the “verse of the day” on the YouVersion app). Savor the words and note anything that jumps out at you. Respond in prayer as the Spirit leads you (confession, thanksgiving, requesting, a commitment to act, etc). – 3 min.
  • Close with this prayer, “Open my eyes to see you today. Open my ears to hear you today. Open my heart to love you today. Open my lips to praise you today. Open my hands to serve you today.” – 1 min.

That’s it. Just 7 minutes. Start small. Build momentum. Reap the benefits. Do it consistently and see how it shapes the way you experience your day.

Do you have a morning routine? Leave a comment and share it with others.

Pastor Jeff Marian serves as lead pastor at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN

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