Guest Post: When Mornings Just Don’t Work For You…

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Note from Kat: Today’s post is from Mandi Ehman. She’s definitely one of my blogging heroes. She runs the blog network Life…Your Way, and does so with incredible integrity and professionalism. I’ve been so impressed by her as I’ve gotten to know her this past year. Today, she shares about her struggle with morning Quiet Times and the solution she found.

Hello…Mid-Mornings

Confession: I’ve been a Christian for more than 18 years, and quiet times are still something I struggle with.

It’s not that I don’t like getting up early in the morning; I am up before the sun most days.

It’s not that I don’t love God’s word; I do. I really do.

But there have always been so many rules and expectations around quiet times, and I find myself buckling under those pressures over and over and over again.

“You should do it first thing, before anything else, because it’s the most important part of your day.”

Don’t get me wrong. Doing your quiet time first thing in the morning is a good thing — or can be, at least — but I’m not convinced that it’s always the best thing for everybody in every circumstance.

You see, I wake up in the morning with a to-do list running through my head. It’s not a stressed out or anxious to-do list, just a list of things I need to do. And when I try to sit down and do my quiet time first thing, that list keeps me from focusing. I end up rushing through my Bible reading and prayer so I can start on my list.

But then I discovered several months that I do much better if I just keep my Bible on my desk. I knock out a good portion of my to-do list first thing and can spend some time in the Word without pressure or rushing…just because I want to.

Let’s Learn From One Another

Do you struggle with the mornings? Have you found a different rhythm that works for you in your current season of life?Share with us in the comments!

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Mandi Ehman is a wife and homeschooling mom of four spunky girls. She’s also the founder of Life…Your Way, where she helps her readers sort through all of the information and opinions that are thrown at them each day to make the best decisions for their families on everything from organizing and decorating to success and motherhood.

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36 Comments

  • Avatar Nohemi says:

    I think we have the Word to guide us. Our Lord Jesus prayed every morning to His Father, the Bible tells us that that’s what He did on a regular basis, ‘when it was still dark’. I think we should try to follow His example on this.

    • Avatar Kyra says:

      I think the regular basis is the most important, not the time of day. God calls us to relationship, not ritual. Does my relationship change just because I spent part of time with him at a different time than you or anyone else?

    • Avatar Lindsey says:

      David prayed in the morning, noon & evening. I think that God, who created us, understands those of us who aren’t functioning before the sun is awake, and that any time we dedicate to him will be blessed by his presence!

    • Avatar michelle says:

      Nohemi, I agree with you, Jesus is our example. I didn’t hear Mandi say she doesn’t pray in the morning. I did hear her encouraging those people who may be struggling more with condemnation and legalism. Thank you for reminding us to look to Christ as our example.

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Very true Nohemi. I completely agree that it’s vital we connect with God first thing in the morning, aligning our heart with His.

      But so often we associate that with HAVING to also be our in depth Bible Study and prayer time. And then, if we can’t spend 30 minutes in the Word we don’t do anything at all.

      What I believe that Mandi is suggesting is that in different seasons and in in different circumstances, it’s important that we learn what works best for us to remain consistent at having a solid Bible Study and Prayer time.

      I think that in ideal circumstances that would be in the morning before we get distracted, but with work schedules, babies, health issues and home environments I want to encourage moms to find whatever rhythm they need to be consistent.

      Simply praying while we prepare to get out of bed or while we brush our teeth can set the tone and direction for our day and make us anticipate that longer alone time with Him, whether it’s before breakfast or during nap time or prior to bedtime.

      Thank you for reminding us that no matter what, it’s important we connect with God first thing!

  • Avatar Kyra says:

    I agree. I have never been a morning person, but I signed up for the challenge anyway. Well…didn’t work. I’m the type of person that can’t even tell you how I got to work because I don’t really wake up until about 10. I have a Bible at my desk that I read while my computer is turning on. That way, I can read before I “start” my day.

  • Avatar Liz Gossom says:

    I have yet to find the perfect time of day to be alone with the Lord because I am flesh, and I can always find something “better” and “more productive” to do. So I have to (personally) MAKE TIME even when all of life seems to press in. No matter what time it is when He calls me to a time of prayer.

  • Avatar Lindsey says:

    I have to admit, I signed up for the challenge (and it has blessed me beyond measure!), but deep down I keep thinking about how a “goodevenings” group might be better for me! I’m such a night owl that it’s a struggle every evening/morming!

  • Avatar Emily says:

    Nothing is wrong with not being a morning person, in my opinion; even though I am one, when I get enough rest, one of my children is DEFINITELY not! 🙂 But I personally prefer to do my Bible reading at night, before falling asleep. That lets me reflect on my day, see where things could have been improved, and pray for the next day. I do “pray constantly” as Paul suggests – the Lord is always in my heart, and we talk frequently 🙂 – and throughout the day I stop when I can, to offer a quick thanks or cry for help, or just stop and be quiet for a moment. The post the other day (and honestly, I can’t remember if it was here or otherwise) about “try it again” and the quest for patience has helped me a lot! Thank you for all the encouragement to just get into the Word, and get listening to God – that’s the most important part for me. We are so often rushing and busy; it’s a good reminder to be quiet and still. 🙂 Thanks!

  • i often get frustrated when i hear that your spiritual quiet times have to be done in the morning. i’m super busy in the morning and am already getting up super early. sometimes i’m able to sit and read and pray without distractions in the morning. but often it’s better for me when my son is in his room for his midafternoon quiet time. i don’t think christ cares what time of day, i think he cares more that we come at our time of reading the bible with a spirit of devotion, spirit of love, and spirit of learning whatever time of the day. we should have an open attitude all throughout the day that is ready to hear god’s voice, to learn more about him in our routines, to be guided and disciplined by him regardless of whether we are in our “quiet time” or not. he wants us to have a heart that is always in tune to hear his voice.

    thanks so much for this encouragement to spend time with him. and i do think that god recognizes what season of life we’re in as well. when children are young and it can be hard to have consistent time alone to read the bible, i do think he honors our efforts through reading devotionals to our children as well. when my children were younger i think the daily little blessings devotionals i read to them were just as enriching to me on a different level as it was to them. not that we should use our children as an excuse to not carve out personal alone time with christ, but that we shouldn’t beat ourselves up if the time we spend reading bible stories to our children is the only biblical encouragement we happen to get that day.

  • Avatar Jenni says:

    I have found that waiting until the afternoon for reading works best for me as well, otherwise I often rush through it. I do enjoy beginning my day with prayer though to get me going! 🙂

  • I am also tempted to rush through things in the morning for the same reasons. A couple of years ago I hit on a solution that really works for me: I have two “quiet times”–one first thing in the morning, and then I sit down for another 15-30 minutes to read, reflect, pray and re-focus when my older kids are having rest time and the baby is napping.

    As a bonus, the two-timing quiet time has done wonders for my composure and well-being as a woman and as a mom.

  • Avatar Sandy says:

    I too have struggled with some well-intentioned preaching and teaching that made me feel like I’m a failure if I don’t have my prayer and Bible time first thing in the morning. In college (Christian), I always fell asleep on my knees, and I never remembered what I read in the Word. When my first child was born, I found a beautiful time for prayer and scripture–while my son was taking his two-hour morning nap. I had been up and about, had some breakfast, and gotten my blood flowing, and I was mentally ready. As my children–and responsibilities–grew, I came to value evening quiet times. I am so much more alert at night! And I LOVE going to bed after a sweet time in the Word and prayer. My prayers and scripture reading are not limited to once a day, though. I pray throughout the day–when I wake up, as I drive to work, during the day, at lunch, on the way home–just whenever! I can read scripture throughout the day. I also like to listen to Christian radio or music in the morning on my way to work. Quiet time with the Lord is important, but I believe that “devotion” should occur throughout the day and not just during our formal quiet times.

  • Avatar Carrie says:

    I agree mornings do not work for everyone. We are not morning people in our house. My mind definitely works better at night!

  • Avatar Rebecca says:

    Oh, my, but you hit a nerve on this one! Isn’t the purpose of morning quiet time to re-align our hearts to God before our day? Is that solely the physical act of reading & praying, or can it — should it — entail more? I like to study, read, and pray in the afternoons or even after the kids are tucked in bed. My morning time is a meditation, a ruminating if you will, on those truths using these questions:
    What did I learn about the character of God/Jesus in this passage?
    How can I praise/thank Him for that attribute?
    How have I seen God demonstrate this attribute in & through my life?
    What areas in my life don’t exhibit the character I saw in my Lord’s life and need to be confessed?
    What situations do I KNOW I will be facing today that will tempt me to walk in the flesh instead of the Spirit?

    I always meditate best with questions, but there are dozens of great ways to meditate. That, I feel, is the crux of morning time whether you’re sitting down in a chair with a Bible in your lap or simply meditating and reconnecting your spirit with His as you prepare for your day. I am looking forward to the other comments on this post 🙂

    • Avatar Kat says:

      Great points! I love that you use your morning time to reflect on what you read the previous evening. So much more interactive and makes us less prone to zone.

      I love listening to worship music or an audio Bible passage at the very least.

      Just like an athlete checks in wight the coach just before the game starts, it’s important we open our hearts and ears to God before out day begins. For some, that might be a short pep talk, and for others it might be a more in depth review of the plays and plans. Whatever works. 🙂

  • Avatar Margaret says:

    I too wake up in the morning with a full to-do list and usually find I can’t focus on my Bible reading when there are other things on my mind. I pray during my morning routine and when I am focused and settled, I sit down to the Bible. Sometimes I am able to do it first thing in the morning, but usually not. Sometimes I don’t sit down till evening. If we struggle to arrange our days to read the Bible first thing to fulfill a perceived obligation, we might get it done, but if it is done begrudgingly or half-heartedly, what good is it? Is that what God wants from us?

    Jesus also prayed late at night.

  • Avatar Leslie says:

    I agree, “just because I want to.” not a (I’m going to use a bad word) standard, that may or may bring condemnation and bondage. If first the heart doesn’t seek, the form doesn’t mean very much. I thought of this scripture… I want to always, at all times, Seek His Face.
    Psalms 27:8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.

  • Avatar sandy says:

    I just can’t seem to absorb anything I read in the morning. My brain doesn’t really “turn on” until well after the kids are up. Being more alert in the evening, I have found that I can really dwell richly on His Word if I read at bedtime. One lovely side benefit is that I used to suffer from nightmares. This is not the case when I read at bedtime. I awaken with His Word on my heart and practice His presence the rest of the day.

    I really think the important thing in all of this is that Jesus knows our hearts. He wants us to have a relationship with Him, and that will look different for each of us. No matter what time of day we choose to read His love letter, it we’re just checking off the devotional box, we’ve missed the point.

  • Avatar Alexandra says:

    Early mornings are definitely my first choice – but that hasn’t always worked in all the seasons of my life. I wrote a bit about it on my blog here http://whisperingsomething.blogspot.com/2011/07/grace.html
    It is so easy to get caught up in the rules, and trying to do everything right – often the pressures are man-ufactured, and not “God-ufactured”

  • Avatar Sandy says:

    I do something like that; start laundry, put dinner in the crock pot, eat breakfast, walk, shower, dress…then Bible and prayer. I’m fully awake by then, if someone needs me I’m dressed and ready to go, and I know my basic morning tasks are finished, leaving me with a clear mind for prayer. Seems to work, at least for now.

  • Definitely evenings after the kids go to bed. I’m tired but relaxed and can read the Word in peace for an hour and go to bed reflecting on what I’ve read, and sometimes the Word even enters my dreams. If I did it in the morning, I would forget what I’ve read and experienced the moment I stand up to start the morning’s crazy task list, but a “quiet time” at night, regardless of what the rest of the Christian world tells me, has been precious. I treasure my evening quiet times!

  • Avatar Glenna Wagner says:

    I’d love an evening group too. Evenings, when the house is quiet, I also reflect on the day, plan my to do list for tomorrow, and read my Bible. It quiets me and keeps my thoughts focus on Him. I do pray in the morning before I get out of bed. I can’t concentrate or remember anything much before noon so I “borrow” other Christians’ thoughts by listening to Kay Arthur while I exercise. I think we have to remember that in Biblical times, the day started in the evening. I value relationship above anything else.

  • I loved Mandi’s post today. I have struggled for years to have a consistent quiet time in the morning. Like a lot of the other commenters, I have a hard time focusing first thing in the morning. I need a cup (or three) of coffee and at least half an hour before I’m truly awake and able to glean all that God has for me in His word. I’ve found that when I read and study His word just before bed, I retain more and fall asleep with my mind focused on Him. Then I can wake the next morning ready to talk to Him about all that I learned the night before. I’m confident that (in MY life), God is more interested in the intent of my heart than the time of day when we meet. 🙂

  • During different seasons, I find different time for quiet times work better. It seems the most consistent I ever was was when I read my Bible before bed. I would think “have I read my Bible today?” If not, I would read it. Once I was married, that no longer worked because I spent my evenings with my husband. Then children came & even if I wanted to read at night, I usually fall asleep even though I am a night owl. For a time, I would do my Bible study during nap-time. But it felt like I floundered for a long time.

    Now, I am finding that I need my Bible by bedside, with journal & plan of what I’m going to read. It is best if I read before I get out of bed — then I actually do it. I use to be able to schedule it into other parts of my day, now it doesn’t seem like I am able to do that. If I don’t do it right away, it doesn’t seem to get done. I think this works, though, because my youngest is 5 and all four children are able to get their own breakfast. This would not have worked for a lot of years.

  • Avatar Sarah Chia says:

    I love this. I have had seasons where I spent 30-60 minutes a day with coffee and God first thing in the morning, and it was amazing. But these days, I’m having a hard time getting out of bed before my little boy calls for me to take him to the bathroom. There are physical ailment type reasons for that, which God has allowed in my life. So, I take the time that I can during the day. Today, I had my quiet time at the playground, while my 3 kids ran around.

  • Avatar hazeljoy says:

    When you wake up in the morning you should be smiling, even when you know they are people who seem to pull you down to get their way up..sometimes, it’s just your thought, sometimes, it’s really not what you think. Someday, you will realize that mornings are the best time in the day to make your day perfect. Do not ruin it with bad thoughts, about your associate. Think because it should not be ” too personal”..

    I smile when I wake up…that makes me want to live longer….that I wish I am…

  • Avatar Ruth Hill says:

    I find that first thing in the morning does not work for me. When I am working, I have time during my break, and that really works well for me. During the summer, it varies with my schedule. I am an early riser–usually up by 5 or 5:30, but quiet time in the morning does not work for me!!

  • Avatar Jennifer says:

    I have a 6 month old, and since I haven’t gone back to work, have been nursing on demand, and have not been able to get him into a nap routine, I’ve been finding it really hard to implement any sort of structure. Add to that the fact that he wakes up when he hears my phone alarm VIBRATE from two rooms away or me get out of my obnoxiously creaky bed, when I get up, he gets up, so morning quiet times are out of the question. The best I’ve been able to do is read a short devotional as I scarf down whatever breakfast he gives me time to pull out of the fridge or pantry. I have long struggled with procrastination, laziness and lack of self-discipline, so I think maybe God is using this time to instill a desire in me for discipline and structure. I’m starting to get the desire, but now can’t seem to implement it! I am going to try to start doing my quiet time when he goes to bed, since I know I’ll have a few hours uninterrupted. Just have to try to keep that to-do list at bay in my head like you!

    • Avatar Kat says:

      That first year is a tough one Jennifer. I did always see a turning point shortly after the 6 month mark, though. I hope there is one coming for you. Sounds like your evening plan is a good one. Whatever it takes to get the habit going…

      You can do it!