Editor’s note: The following is an extract from Hannah Fytche’s book: ‘God’s Daughters’, which is available to buy here.
The clichéd reason for being in a grumpy mood is that you got out of bed on the wrong side. There are many problems with this cliché, the greatest being: how can I get out of bed on the wrong side if my bed’s next to the wall?
It’s these questions that keep me up at night.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a great theologian, shed light on this situation by writing: “The morning prayer determines the day.” Evidently it’s not the side of the bed that determines your mood; rather, it’s the attitude you choose to start your day with. Do you start with a prayerful few minutes of reflecting on God’s truth, or do you immediately let your feelings colour your view of the day, inwardly complaining about all the stuff you’ll have to deal with?
Whatever your answer, I think the former approach is the more favourable. Focusing on God’s truth first thing sets you up for the rest of the day, reminding you of the grace that brought you here. There are many methods you could use to meet God in the morning, one of which is called morning pages.
Emily Freeman blogged about morning pages, quoting the author Julia Cameron on their definition. What it comes down to is a practice of writing three pages of stream-of-consciousness thought each morning. Freeman writes: “If prayer is a deep breath in, the morning page is a cleansing breath out.”
A cleansing breath out could be exactly what you need as you start the day. Writing down your worries, frustrations and thoughts clears out the cobwebs cluttering the corners of your mind and leaves your soul free to breathe in prayer.
Freeman calls her morning pages notebook her to-be notebook, rather than a to-do notebook; maybe you need to give yourself the space to just be and rest, before you do everything the day asks of you.
Another morning rhythm I want to share is slightly more active. Feel free to tone down the activity if you’re not a morning person. I have an exercise bike – sounding ominous already? – and each morning, I try to wake myself up with 20 minutes of cycling. So where does prayer come in? Well, as I cycle, I pray.
I pray: “Thank you”, “Please” and “Sorry” prayers, bringing my day and feelings to God. Once I’ve prayed for myself, I pray for my family, boyfriend and friends. I pray for the people I will encounter. I pray for you.
In other words, as I cycle, I find space to talk to God and to widen my circle of prayer. This is an idea I heard recently at church. The concept is that you start with a small circle as you pray for yourself and your day, and then the circle widens as you pray for more and more people.
It’s not the cycling that prompts these prayers. It’s the rhythm of doing something regularly that reminds me to talk to God. Whatever you do, a great way to converse with God as you wake up is to attach prayer time to a regular activity, letting it be a reminder for you to seek God.
So, just do it. Go to Jesus; keep company with him. Let him teach you a new way of living life to the full. Pray all the time, with every step. Be honest: admit you’ve had enough of the try-hard life. Meet God; let your heart be held by him.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.” (Matthew 11:28-29, The Message).