Merridith Frediani shares four lessons she learned when she resolved, at the beginning of 2021, to get up early to pray.
I love to sleep. Love it. Sleep is a glorious thing and if I don’t get enough I do not rise to the occasion; rather I become an unpleasant grouch.
Knowing that, here’s my story.
It’s a new year; a time to glance back and peer forward. In an act born of optimism, we resolve to make something in our life better. I am not one for New Year's resolutions. They often involve the discomfort of stopping something bad for me but I enjoy or starting something good for me but don’t enjoy. In the cold, dark winter, adding discomfort to my life is rarely appealing. Mostly I want to sleep until spring and deal with it then. Easter can be my new year.
Then Base Camp happened. My prayer life was faltering and I wanted that to change, so beginning January 3, 2021, I committed to praying daily for 30 to 40 minutes.There was a guide to help frame the time and several friends committed to a 6 AM prayer time.
I’ve resisted morning prayer because even though I like the morning, I thought I’d never get up and if I did, I’d fall back to sleep. But I felt Jesus tugging at me, encouraging me to make this sleep sacrifice to spend time with Him. I got an old-fashioned alarm clock with a displeasing bell and put it in the bathroom adjacent to my bedroom. In order to turn off its clanging and avoid waking my son in the next room, I had to vault out of bed and dash over to the cupboard. It’s an unholy way to arise, but it worked.
This is Lesson #1: set yourself up for success. The 6 o’clock alarm rang and I got up. I was comforted knowing that my friends were doing the same, but not in a we’re-all-suffering-together way but in a we’re-all-pursuing-holiness way.
I grabbed coffee and went to the living room. For regular prayer to be successful, we need a routine. This is Lesson #2. That routine can include a room, a chair, a blanket, or lighting a candle. The goal is to have something different to cue yourself that prayer is imminent. For me, turning a chair toward the fireplace and covering up with a blanket tells me I’m praying now. Routine is important.
The beginning of a resolution is easy. Despite leaving my soft, warm bed to sit in a cold, dark house, I was excited, and knowing I wasn’t alone helped.
That excitement wore off and I hit a slump. I was sorely tempted to sleep in. This is Lesson #3: ask Jesus for help. Jesus wants us to spend time with Him so we can pray for help with confidence. This is a prayer that will be answered. Whether the challenge is crawling out of bed, keeping distracting thoughts away or any other things the enemy throws at us, if we ask Jesus for help, we can count on it.
I pushed through, with God’s grace and enjoyed my time. Then I learned about the Bible in a Year podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz. I decided to listen, but that meant adding to my prayer time. I started getting up at 5:30. Again, easy at first, then hard. But I persevered. I knew God wanted me to hear His Word every day and I knew He would keep helping me.
I began to look forward to being awake at 5:30 AM and my time with Jesus. The first half of 2021 brought the sickness and death of a good friend. Without that morning prayer, I would’ve been a wreck. I never doubted that Jesus was with me in that grief.
In June I took a new job and realized I would have to get up even earlier if I wanted to continue my prayer habit. Now I get up at 5:00 AM which, a year ago would have been unthinkable. Yet again, God gave me the grace I needed. Lesson 4: believe it’s possible to have a regular prayer life.
I have a year of early rising behind me now, and as someone who loves sleep, that’s pretty amazing. Making it a priority to spend time with Him every day may seem like too much. You may feel like there’s too many other things that just have to get done. You may feel like you’ll fail (again). You may not believe Jesus wants you to spend time with Him.
These are lies the enemy is telling you.
Click to tweet:
Jesus loves you and wants to spend time with you. He knows the challenges of making that happen, and invites you anyway. #catholicmom
Here’s the truth: Jesus loves you and wants to spend time with you. He knows the challenges of making that happen, whether it’s a love of sleep, a busy family life, or the difficulty of slowing down. He invites you anyway. Ask Him to help you manage the challenges. Know He is by your side. Remember that God can stretch time so all those tasks yammering to get done can wait. You’ll still get done what needs to get done and the other stuff may become insignificant.
Make your resolution for 2022 to build a regular prayer life with our Lord and invite Him along. In one year, you’ll be amazed!
Copyright 2022 Merridith Frediani
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About the Author
Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. Merridith writes for Catholic Mom, Diocesan.com, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book, Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration, is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can read more at MerridithFrediani.com.