What was the first thought you had upon waking this morning? Were your first coherent thoughts colored by negativity, anxiety, worry, or strife? Did you leap out of bed and start chiding yourself about the million things you needed to do before breakfast? Mother Teresa asks:
Does your mind and your heart go to Jesus as soon as you get up in the morning? This is prayer, that you turn your mind and heart to God. In your times of difficulties, in sorrows, in sufferings, in temptations, and in all things, where did your mind and heart turn first of all? How did you pray? Did you take the trouble to turn to Jesus and pray, or did you seek consolations?
No doubt that first sip of your favorite morning brew beckons to you. But while the kettle boils or the coffee percolates, take a moment to reorient yourself, to acknowledge your debt and dependence upon the One who set the universe in space, who kept you breathing through the night, who set his angels to guard your house while you and your family slept. Prayer is a debt of love, to be sure—and yet that simple gesture of reminding ourselves that we are not truly the center of the universe, holding it all together, can have a liberating effect.
Good morning, Lord. Thank you for watching over us last night…
If you’re anything like me, it might take a little effort to see the “good” in morning. I’ve never been a “morning person,” and as with most Catholic moms, my life is replete with late nights, family issues, work challenges, and physical challenges that could leave a person scrambling to find something for which to be thankful.
Yet over the years I’ve learned that my day always goes better when I stop and thank God anyway. Starting from a position of thanks and trust in Divine Providence makes it easier to face whatever is in store. Besides, I need a regular reminder that I cannot control or dictate every circumstance of my life—some things are just beyond my control. And when those unexpected challenges arise, turning spontaneously to God to share both thanks and concerns helps me get through the day, from breakfast to bedtime.
In his book Introduction to the Devout Life, St. Francis de Sales writes of the importance of lifting the soul up to God in prayer each day:
Prayer opens the understanding to the brightness of Divine Light, and the will to the warmth of Heavenly Love—nothing can so effectually purify the mind from its many ignorances, or the will from its perverse affections. It is as a healing water which causes the roots of our good desires to send forth fresh shoots, which washes away the soul’s imperfections, and allays the thirst of passion.
How often do you experience healing waters, the “warmth of Heavenly Love”? Does your day begin with the siren song of the snooze alarm or a hungry toddler and throttle on relentlessly until you tumble, exhausted, into bed? If that happens to you more often than you’d like to admit, how can you take advantage of this Lenten season to begin a new and healthier approach to prayer?
Some who are just beginning the discipline of morning prayer find it helpful to remember the acronym ACTS (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication), which provides a simple way to begin each day:
I worship you, God, because __________________.
I’m sorry, God, because __________________.
Thank you, God, for __________________.
Help me, God, to __________________.
A Moment to Reflect
What’s the first thing you remember about the events of your morning? Did you feel tired or cheerful, anxious or at peace? As the day progressed, was there a good time for you to pause and breathe a prayer of thanks to God?
The “ACTS” prayer can be a useful tool for staying in touch with God throughout the day—even just a sentence or two. As you go through your day, think about moments when you might turn to God in adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication. How do these prayers change your outlook?
A Moment to Pray
Holy Spirit, you are the sign of God’s love in the world, guiding me and speaking to me through the circumstances of my life. Raise my mind to worship, caution me when I go astray, prompt me when I need to intercede for another. I thank you for remaining with me always.
Saint Teresa of Calcutta, pray for us!
Heidi Hess Saxton is a writer and editor based in Indiana. This is taken from her book Lent with Saint Teresa of Calcutta: Daily Meditations.