The Easy, Free Answer to a Better Day, Every Day
Starting your day with (even a few minutes of) prayer
How does your day begin? Hitting the snooze button? With dread for the day ahead? Do you rush to get yourself to work, the kids to school, then barrel into your day at a frantic pace? Or do you lay in bed and spin up the same negative thoughts of the day before, worrying about the things that haven’t even happened yet?
The tech firm Withings evaluated the sleep habits of Americans and found that; not only do the majority of us hit that snooze button, a whopping 79% say a bad wake-up experience can ruin the whole day.
So, what if you were to begin your day feeling refreshed and full of hope? With a positive outlook and peace in your mind?
What if you could jump out of that bed with excitement, waiting to see what the day would bring?
We can all agree that beginning our day with that kind of alacrity would have an astounding effect on our work, our relationships with others, and likely even our health.
So how do we turn our mornings around and begin our day with this new attitude and life-changing behavior? It’s easy, anyone can do it, it requires no training, little time, and it’s free. I’m talking about starting your day with prayer.
Studies have shown that prayer can elicit feelings of gratitude, compassion, forgiveness, and hope. As a bonus, each of these buoyant states of mind are associated with healing and wellness.
Numerous other studies have shown that prayer can:
- Reduce health risks
- Enhance recovery from injury
- Enhance recovery from surgery
- Protect against stress
- Improve mood and outlook
- Improve immune function
- Increase happiness and financial satisfaction
In addition, researchers at the University of Miami analyzed more than EIGHTY YEARS of data and found that prayer and other religious practices improve the ability to pursue and achieve long-term goals. If this isn’t a solid, science-backed reason to engage in prayer time before a workday, I don’t know what is!
“But I don’t have time to pray!”
Ok, let’s dispel that myth fairly quickly. This is coming from a person who, I promise you, loves her sleep as much as the next human. Maybe even more than mama bears.
Do you ever wake up at 4:00 or 4:30 in the morning? Do you struggle to get back to sleep, but your mind spins out of control as you begin the worry pattern? If you’re as troubled as most of us are about circumstances and finances and stressors these days, I’ll bet you do. And we all know how fun it is to finally get to sleep again — ten minutes before the alarm goes off!
Just get up.
Let me ask you to simply try, a few times in this next week, to just sit up and pray instead of engaging in that sleep war. Ask yourself what would be better: to get another fitful hour of sleep and still begin the day exhausted, worried, and frazzled? Or spend that time improving your health, your mental well-being, and your relationship with God?
In fact, I bet you’ll either fall back to sleep peacefully until that alarm rings, or you’ll feel so much better you’ll get right out of bed feeling refreshed. (Remember, I am speaking from experience here!)
Or how about you skip that snooze button?
Let’s be honest; does that extra 10 minutes after you smash the snooze button really leave you feeling energized and refreshed? Get up when that alarm goes off the first time, go pee, get a drink of water and splash some on your face. Find a comfy spot. Maybe tuck back in bed — but if you’ll be disturbing a sleepy spouse, hit that comfy chair in the other room with a blankie.
What, you think morning prayer has to be an hour of eloquence and scripture? Well, if it did, I would have flunked out of that practice long ago and wouldn’t be sharing this advice with you as something that works for me. This isn’t a test, there’s no judge, no rules, and no timer.
So yes, you can pray for just 10 or 15 minutes. This is 15 tiny minutes that has the power to change your entire day. Your health and wellness. Your work productivity. Your whole life. Do it.
“But I don’t know how to pray!”
Again, this is not a performance, you are not Billy Graham, no one is listening but God, and while scripture quotes are powerful and meaningful and important (that’s a whole other article) they are not necessary.
Start with Thanks
Most of us have heard that an ‘attitude of gratitude’ brings about countless positive things, such as happiness, peace of mind, manifestation of miracles, and more. I have experienced this myself.
Starting my day by thanking God for all I have is my number one key to improving my outlook on the ENTIRE day ahead. Feeling so down that it’s hard to be grateful? Look around until you find a few things you can be thankful for, even if they are small and ridiculous.
Can you get up and walk to the kitchen? Can you go push a button and make delicious coffee? Is there someone you love sleeping next to you? Can you see the sun when it rises? Can you take a hot shower? Do you have food to eat? It is so easy to forget how precious each of these things are, but when you reach out with your mind and natural empathy to those who do not have them, it changes your perspective.
When you consider how many people don’t even have clean running water, you don’t feel so reluctant to get up for that shower and cup of coffee.
Spill your Guts
Are you struggling with your finances? Terrified you won’t find a job? Battling an illness or depression? Do you have something deep and dark and secret you are afraid to share?
God is listening. And He won’t tell anyone your secrets! You can tell Him everything, day after day. He won’t get annoyed or tired of listening.
When you share your deepest heart and hurts with a trusted friend, doesn’t it feel good to UNLOAD and get it off your chest? But what if you don’t have a friend you trust *that* much? What if your friends are tired of hearing your troubles and don’t know what to say? You can spill it to God every single morning and start your day feeling a little less burdened, a little lighter.
And sometimes, when you talk all those thoughts and feels and troubles out — you get some clarity at the end. Sometimes you hear a small voice. An idea. A step forward. A breakthrough. Talk it out like the free therapy it is and God will never leave you wanting.
Ask for Help
Waiting for a miracle? Just need some direction for the day ahead? Ask. Even those who do not memorize scripture have heard “ye have not because ye ask not.” And again, just like spilling your troubles to a patient and loving ear, talking out your wants and needs will sometimes result in a change within or insight. Sometimes you will feel a blessing full of hope, something beautiful descending upon you. Ask God for help with whatever you may need, however small or mountainous, and thank Him in advance for His answer.
When you begin your day with gratitude, sharing your heart, talking out your concerns, and asking for God’s help, the trajectory of your entire day is changed. You are no longer beginning your day in stress, hurry, despair, and lack. You are beginning your day with health and wellness, soundness of mind, and an expectation of good things to come.
Those few minutes will bring you the power, the hope, the focus, and the help you need for a better day — every single day.