“In the morning, when I rise, give me Jesus.” These song lyrics have been sitting on my heart lately. I long to begin my day by diving into quiet time spent with Jesus, but if I’m being completely honest, it feels like an impossible task most days of the week.
Prior to the pandemic, I carved out 10 minutes before work to pray the daily readings and Blessed is She daily devotional. This, plus my mug of warm coffee, helped me start my day on a positive note. During my commute to work, I listened to a Rosary podcast. This gave me grace and strength to handle each day.
However, like most people, when COVID-19 began, my morning routine fell apart. Since I was teaching remotely, my prayer time kept getting pushed later and later into my day. I was often greeted with a surplus of urgent emails that needed my attention before I was even out of bed. Without my morning commute, I struggled to find time to listen, let alone pray, the Rosary every day.
Less than three short months later, our first daughter was born. While she is truly the greatest joy, her arrival added to my lack of morning prayer routine. Most days, I woke up groggy from interrupted sleep. By the time I fed her, changed her, did tummy time, and got her down for her first nap, I needed a nap myself. I knew without quick access to the sacraments and entering a new life stage, I desperately needed a way to bring more fruitful prayer time into my day. But how?
How to Put the Word Before the World
Are you also struggling to prioritize time with Jesus first thing in the morning? Is your heart longing for the comfort of His Word before the world gets in the way? Maybe as a student there doesn’t seem to be enough time to connect with Him before a busy day of class. Maybe you have a handful of children at home with you, and between virtual learning and parenting, it feels like there is never any time available for prayer. Or maybe you’ve never developed a consistent prayer routine and aren’t sure how to start. I understand where you are, sister. Let’s walk through an action plan to put His Word before the world’s.
The most important thing I’ve realized since my daughter was born is that I have to handle tasks in small chunks. This can be a big struggle for me. I want to go all in, but this season of life and vocation God has called me to requires setting aside my desires for His. None of us would prepare for a marathon by starting with a 20-mile run, so why do we expect the same in our spirituality? Instead of planning 30 minutes of Lectio Divina every day, I start first with the Morning Offering. This short prayer is perfect to say as I hear my daughter stirring on the monitor. I love meditating on this simple prayer and starting my day with these words instead of an Instagram scroll.
Prepare for Challenges
During my years of teaching in a challenging elementary school, I learned to anticipate behavior so I could be proactive instead of reactive. Instead of hoping my student with behavioral difficulties would magically wake up on the right side of the bed, I found ways to prepare myself for the challenges before they happened.
This is essential in our prayer routine, too! Are you frequently interrupted by text messages, urgent work emails, little toddlers, or a noisy roommate? Anticipate these challenges ahead of time and have back up plan for when you can’t devote your time to prayer in your preferred way. This may be by offering up the annoyance for the suffering of a friend or family member. It could be popping on Fr. Mike Schmitz’s Bible in a Year Podcast while you feed your children breakfast. It could mean starting your lunch break reading the Gospel instead of picking up your iPhone.
Whatever it looks like for you, commit to one easy replacement for the tough days.
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Find a Realistic Routine
In the perfect world, I’d wake up every day an hour before my daughter to get dressed, have breakfast, and spend time with Jesus. But as much as I wish I lived in the perfect world, I certainly do not. Instead, I pick 1-2 days a week where I do get up before her. This time has become such a fruitful gift in my life. I am able to really sit with the readings and allow God’s Word to fill my heart before news headlines get thrown at me. I have found when I prioritize this time, I feel so much less anxious. Some days, I only get 10 minutes into this time before little cries come through the monitor earlier than normal. However, I can then reach for my back up plan.
I also love to remember what my spiritual director shared with me when I was pregnant and anxious about finding time for prayer. She said, “You were called to this vocation on purpose. Jesus isn’t asking you to give Him perfect time every day. He might be asking you to sacrifice your need to finish all the laundry and just sit with Him. Or He could be asking you to offer up a prayer while you nurse your baby. If you’re open to Him, He’ll find a way to meet you where you are.”
If you only have 5-10 minutes to pray in the morning, make sure to keep your distractions at bay. Silence your iPhone, sit outside, hide in the bathroom, whatever it takes! I love reading the daily readings straight from my email on my iPhone, but I’ve learned it’s way too tempting to click on text messages that come through instead of staying present to God’s Word. Now, I put my phone in the other room and access the readings from my computer instead.
Make Prayer a Part of Your Community
Our spirituality isn’t meant to be experienced alone, and one of the best ways to engage in His Word is through friendship with others. If you’re in a season of life where you can participate in a virtual Bible Study or read the Mass readings with a friend over Facetime, do it!
Can you go to Daily Mass once a week? Are you able to drop by Adoration for 15 minutes before heading into work? Is there a religious book you’ve been eyeing? Send a copy to a friend asking her to join you. There are so many ways to connect with others while striving towards your spiritual goals. Don’t be afraid to ask a friend to keep you accountable.
My husband and I have recently devoted one day a week to saying the Rosary together. Having this time together to reflect on the mysteries provides grace for the tough days.
Friend, are you ready to join me in pursuing His Word before the world’s? Start simple, bring what you have, and know it will bear great fruit. We’ve already seen what He can do with a meager offering of loaves and fish, and He is waiting to bless you with an overflowing abundance too.
Mary Fuelling is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mom in Fort Worth, TX. Her favorites include coffee, dark chocolate almonds, and all things Marian. In her free time, she enjoys reading, exercising, and cooking.