As I seek to develop a habit of "mindfulness," one of the things I am trying to avoid is getting into repetitious patterns. Yet there are certain disciplines that I seek to make a part of each day. One--my listing of those persons, organizations, groups, and the like--I mentioned in an earlier post. The disciplines that I seek to incorporate into each day are (1) an early morning Scripture reading and prayer, (2) the prayer that utilizes the list I mentioned above, (3) a prayer of gratitude, (4) a solitary "think" time, and (5) the quick prayers that come as a result of the prompts about which I posted earlier. These disciplines seem to be helping keep me mindful of the presence of God throughout the day, and I find sensitivity to that presence is becoming more frequent, almost constant. (My goal is to eliminate the word "almost.")
I want to post today about my early morning discipline. The first thing I do each morning is to go to my "quiet spot" in our den and open my computer, where I access the reading for the day. I am focusing on reading the four gospels now. I read a brief passage, one of the divisions within the chapters in the NIV. I have completed Mark and Luke and am near the end of Matthew. I will, of course, read John's gospel next. My intention after completing John is to reread the gospels using a "harmony." Once that has been done, I want to explore the context of the gospels, that is, to learn more about what life was like in Roman Judaea and Galilee during the lifetime of Jesus. My goal is to immerse myself in the life and teachings of Jesus as much as I possibly can and to study the life and teachings of Jesus without the filter of the epistles.
After my reading, I begin my morning prayer by writing a brief summary of the reading and my interpretation of it. Next I write questions about those things I do not understand and ask God to lead me to understanding. I continue writing my prayer using a word-processing program, offering thanks for the joys of the past day, listing the plans I have for the new day and asking God to guide me to the tasks God wants me to accomplish, and praying for my family.
After writing this opening section of my prayer, I stop to pray in silence and to listen for God's direction and reassurance. I meditate using a short phrase, such as "God is love," and when I sense that it is time to end my quiet time of prayer, I write my closing sentences, asking for God to help me stay open to God's presence, to be prepared for whatever work God wants to do in my life to transform me into the person God wants me to be. I thank God for the forgiveness of my sins, and end by praying these prayers through Jesus, using a phrase based on the reading for the day.
I've not always prayed in this fashion, and I'll post another time about the "start-of-the-day" prayers I used to employ. This new, less structured way of praying has been a rewarding practice for me. The idea of sitting in silence, listening for God, has made me more keenly aware of God's presence not only during this initial time of prayer, but throughout the day. I'll post about the other disciplines I use throughout the day in later posts. I would be interested to know how others begin their days with God, the disciplines others employ to keep God in their hearts and minds during the day.