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My entire life I have been a night owl. I had never been a morning person. Even being a mom, waking up early happened only when it was necessary for the kiddo or for work, but never voluntary. With that, though, my day always started really late, and then I was up late. I was opposite my family’s schedule, and enjoyed my time at night playing games, reading, and hanging out with friends online.
I realized a few things that I now see was without question God letting me know I needed to make some changes. What I thought was for my family was even more so for my faith and my relationship with my Heavenly Father, and has in turn benefited my family and my relationship with them. I am no longer a night owl, but I’m not even upset about it. Honestly, I don’t miss it (often). Sometimes, very rarely, I stay up late (which is now only about 10pm where it used to be like 2am), but usually we are all early to bed and early to rise. Why is that? Why would I change this habit I loved of staying up late and sleeping late into the morning?
She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her household and portions for her maidens. Proverbs 31:15 ESV
Last year I revisited Proverbs 31 and God renewed my desire and mission to be the woman He has called me to be. I am a wife and mother, and first and foremost daughter of the One True King, my Heavenly Father. He has placed me here to tend to my family, including to rise early to care for them, which begins with caring for my relationship with God. This struck me. As time went on God led me to create a morning routine that centers me on Him each day and equips me to better serve Him and care for my family.
Now, if you don't have a family or others to care for, this still applies - we are all the bride of Christ. This is the way a Christian should live; not grudgingly, but gratefully because we have a Heavenly Father whom we are called to serve out of love for Him, and also serve those He places in our care, whomever that might be. But it begins with us - it starts with our personal relationship with God. In order to serve God well, we must grow with Him daily.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. Philippians 4:6 ESV
We must all remember that everyone’s relationship with God is unique, but that some things are the same. We will be called to the same great mission in our own unique ways in which God equips us. For me, these morning habits are what help me start my day growing with God and I pray they will encourage and inspire you to grow with God daily as well.
At the beginning of this year I was feeling incredibly convicted about prayer. When I had started streaming on Twitch we eventually began to pray together every day, live and on camera, and I started to learn more about prayer. I studied prayer in scripture, began praying with and for others daily, and learned a bit more about praying for myself as well. But let me tell you, building a prayer routine? That was a tough one, but something God put on my heart to do - and I am so grateful He did.
And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mark 1:35 ESV
When I had felt this draw to be more intentional and strategic with my prayers I didn’t know what I was in for. I really didn’t like the idea of a prayer journal; that felt too personal - what if someone else saw it?? But the idea of just keeping a list felt far too impersonal. I searched and searched for some different books and journals online, though, to see what other people were doing. I scoured Pinterest, asked a couple friends to pray with me about it, and eventually I saw where God was taking me.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8:26 ESV
What I needed to learn first is what I believe we all need to learn first - prayer is supposed to be about your personal and intimate relationship with your Heavenly Father. It is not about you, nor others, it is about God. It is to grow with God, grow in faith, build and strengthen your relationship with Him through intentional and constant communication with Him. What that means is there is no “one size fits all”, but there are certainly practices we can all benefit from in our prayer lives. So, while I would like to share what has worked for me, I would like to encourage you to prayerfully consider how God may be guiding you to a stronger prayer routine to be more intentional about your time with Him.
Recommended for learning more about and diving deeper in prayer:
Write your prayers
Writing prayers is so powerful. It helps me to focus more on my prayers, be more intentional, and also be able to go back through old prayers to see answered ones and pray over older ones again. I prayer journal directly to God. It is like a letter I am writing to God, or like passing notes as if He is right next to me. Prayer journaling has been a huge blessing for me and allows me to connect with God in an intimate and personal way.
Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3 ESV
Some people love bullet journaling, some write novels every day, some love to doodle or downright paint the whole page. Whatever God leads you to with your journaling, go for it! Rock it out and pray for God to reveal Himself and draw you closer to Him in the personal and intimate ways He wants you to grow in relationship with Him.
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Matthew 6:7 ESV
If writing them down on paper is not your thing for whatever reason, there are some really incredible online tools that can remain private. My favorite is through the YouVersion Bible App. They have so much to offer, and one thing is their digital prayer list which can be kept privately in the palm of your hand. This may be a good toe-in-the-water to help you feel out writing your prayers down in some private format. Creating a prayer list is also really helpful if you aren't much for writing. Having a list of names or things you are praying over can help you set your mind and heart on those things and people in your prayer time.
My Prayer Journaling Staples:
Make time for prayer
I know - your day is just SO busy! How could you possibly make time for anything else?
Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Matthew 26:41 ESV
If God is truly a priority in your life you will prioritize Him in your day by making time for Him first thing and throughout. I have started getting up at about 5:00am before my kiddo gets up to have some quiet time with God before I start my day. I changed my whole routine to make sure I have quiet time to spend with God every day. I hold to a principle that I will not say “I don’t have time” - I have time, and it is my choice how I spend my time.
You have time - how are you choosing to spend it?
That is not to say you should create unhealthy habits in order to make time for prayer. We should all prayerfully consider how and when God would like us to shape out a part of every day to spend specifically with Him. How can we expect a relationship to grow, to strengthen, to be healthy if we don’t prioritize it and make time to have meaningful and intimate time and conversations within that relationship? The same is true with our relationship with God, and our relationship with God should be placed as #1 in our lives, above all other relationships.
If we make time for friends and family, even ourselves, how much more important should it be to make time for God?
Prayer Journals for Inspiration:
Read the Bible
After I have prayed for as long as I need and feel drawn to, I whip open my Bible. I love to have a variety of Bibles. Sometimes I crack open a study Bible, sometimes one with lighter devotionals, sometimes a journaling Bible, sometimes just a raw Bible with no commentary or extras. I use whatever I am feeling led to that morning. I love to use reading plans, and have started creating my own for the books and topics I am feeling called to specifically study and read through. (You can find my reading plans here. I post a new one every month!)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 2 Timothy 3:16 ESV
I also particularly love a newer routine of reading a Psalm a day with my kiddo before we jump into the day's activities. We both have a NLT Inspire Art Journaling Bible that we can get artsy in worship to God while we study a Psalm together - bond together as we bond with God. It's been a beautiful way to begin every day.
Afterward, she gets started on school work while I jump into a personal study. I am in love with the new NIV Verse Mapping Bible (even if you're not an NIV fan, check this one out...for real. I expect to write a post dedicated to it before long it is that amazing!), and I am also just starting a study on Elijah by Priscilla Shirer with our women's fellowship group, the Vineyard. It is amazing and I highly recommend it. You're also welcome to join us if you haven't already!
I love being in the Word of God every morning for as long as God leads, and in whatever way or place He calls me to. I let Him lead the way every morning and prayerfully dive in deep to learn whatever He is revealing to me that day.
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4:4 ESV
Some suggested Bible Studies:
Start every day brewing over the Word of God.
Whatever else you do each day, begin your day with the Lord. Pray intentionally. Make time for Him, spend time in His Word, and let Him reveal to you whatever He has waiting for you. Beginning my day not-so-bright but very early has been an immense blessing for this life-long night owl and I am so grateful He led me here.
For those who are like I was, not ready to rise early, to sacrifice sleep, to put time with God ahead of the to-do list - I encourage you to surrender all of it to Him and let Him lead you where He knows you need to go and where only He can take you. Trust your Heavenly Father to help you, guide you, and strengthen you. Trust that in prioritizing time with Him, He will guide you in rightly prioritizing the rest of your time and tasks as well.
I can do all things through him who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13 ESV
All of these tools, resources and recommendations have helped me to dive deeper as I grow in my faith, but I want to stress that all you need is time - and trust me, God has given you plenty of it, no matter what the world teaches you. Choose to spend time with God every day however He calls you to. He earnestly seeks intimate time with you every day and He should be rightly prioritized every single day.
If you would like to pray, study and fellowship alongside fellow loving Christians I'd love to invite you to join us. We're here to grow with God as we grow with one another as the Body of Christ. Come back and watch for future studies, reading plans and more as well. There's always more to study and learn!