According to research from the Barna Group, 70% of parents sleep with their phones next to them. 72% of preteens and 82% of teenagers do the same. It makes sense, doesn’t it? For most of us, the phone has replaced the alarm clock. It’s easier, the tones are smoother to wake up to, and we use the thing for everything else in life.
So the phone is right there, the alarm goes off, and we reach for the phone to switch it off. At this point, muscle memory takes over and instead of turning off the alarm, we open up the phone and scan through the news, check our email, or peruse twitter to see what’s happening in the world. And we’re in it – down the rabbit hole of technology again, the first moments of our day being swallowed up in any number of websites and apps.
Perhaps we eventually come to prayer. Or the Bible. Hopefully we do. But I wonder what would happen if first thing in the morning, as we are swinging our legs out of bed, the we retrained the same muscle memory to voicing some specific and repetitive prayers? What if, as the alarm went off, our minds were trained to think on God? Surely, but surely, doing so would set a different pace and expectation for the rest of the day. But what do we pray during those brief moments when we are still hazy with sleep?
We have a glorious amount of freedom when it comes to prayer. But for these moments, first thing in the morning, let me suggest some form of three prayers to pray each day as you rise from bed and shake off the night. Each of these three prayers comes from Scripture, and each I believe helps to remind us who God is and what He has both promised and asked of us each day:
1. Thank you, Lord, for new mercies.
Because of the Lord’s faithful love we do not perish, for his mercies never end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness! I say, “The Lord is my portion, therefore I will put my hope in him” (Lam. 3:22-24).
The context of the Book of Lamentations, written by the prophet Jeremiah, is that of destruction and desperation. Jerusalem had fallen, the temple was destroyed, and Jeremiah wept. Yet in the midst of what must have seemed like a hopeless situation, Jeremiah reminded himself of the mercy of God. No matter what the situation looks like, no matter how dire the circumstances, the mercies of God are new every morning. Including this one.
When we rise from sleep, let us give thanks, in faith, that God’s mercies are brand new this morning for us as His children. Armed with that confidence, let us move forward into the day with confidence.
2. Give me the daily bread I need today.
“Our Father in heaven, your name be honored as holy. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread” (Matt. 6:9-11).
This is how Jesus told us to pray. We are to come to our father and ask Him for our daily bread. Not tomorrow’s bread, but today’s, and in so doing, we are acknowledging our great need of God for the very substance of life. And we are doing it on a daily basis. But the wonderful news is that we can be confident not only that God will give us what we need today – whether that bread take the form of patience, perseverance, or even actual bread itself – but that He already knows just what sort of bread we need.
When we rise from sleep, let us remember our weakness and frailty and reject any form of self-dependence and instead actively trust God to give us all we need for what the day will bring.
3. Help me, today, to take up my cross.
Then he said to them all, “If anyone wants to follow after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of me will save it” (Luke 9:23-24).
This is the call to every Christian – be they young or old, rich or poor, powerful or lowly. Everyone who wants to come after Jesus has to surrender their lives. That includes hopes, dreams, aspirations, and regular old everyday acts of obedience. Here again we see Jesus making the qualification that taking up one’s cross is not a one time thing, but instead a daily, conscious choice. We have to do it over and over again, for each day the desires of self will creep into our scope of vision.
When we rise from sleep, let us make it our priority to surrender ourselves wholly to Jesus who is indeed not only our Savior, but also our Lord.
What would change if first thing out of bed we started with some simple prayers? Some simple reminders of who God is and what He has promised and required of us? Again, I’m not entirely sure. But I suspect quite a lot.