What if I told you there was one thing you could do that would:
• Increase your memory
• Keep you from losing mental abilities as you age
• Make you more compassionate
• Balance out your emotions and reduce anxiety
And what if I said that this would require almost no change to your current lifestyle? Intrigued? I am not kidding—and I’ll tell you why shortly, but first, here is a dialogue I have had with numerous people over the years:
Friend: I wish I could spend time with God in the mornings, but I just can’t wake up that early, and then my day gets away from me and…
Me: Have you thought about going to bed earlier?
Friend: Sure—I’ve tried that too, but then I just lay there at night wide-eyed and I’m even more tired in the morning.
Me: Okay, how about this. Try setting your alarm for 5:30am and getting up at that time every single morning for one month, no matter how you feel, and before long you'll be ready for bed earlier.
Friend: Ugh...I don't know.
Me: Okay, do you realize that you do this successfully once every year?
Me: When Spring comes and you have to set your clock forward for daylight savings time, you start getting up one hour earlier every single day, right? And at first you have trouble going to sleep at the right time, but soon your body adjusts and you are on a new rhythm!
The point I am trying to make is that being able to get up earlier each day is a simple matter of doing it long enough for your body to adjust. The good news is that since this is Fall instead of Spring you can do absolutely nothing—just keep getting up at the same time as you have been, even after you set your clock back--and you will be able to embrace that wonderful quiet hour of stillness with God before you face the day. There is no easier time than this week to establish this discipline.
I’ve been reading a fascinating book by a neuroscientist named Andrew Neuberg who studies prayer and meditation through brain imaging, called How God Changes Your Brain. It details incredible scientific studies that confirm the power of prayerful meditation. However, Dr. Newberg does offer the caveat that prayer that is conducted for only a few minutes at a time doesn’t have these powerful effects, because it is the “intense, ongoing focus on a specific object, goal, or idea that stimulates the cognitive circuits in the brain.”
This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t offer brief prayers, but rather that we need far more than this—not only to deepen our relationship with God, but to have healthy minds and emotions. Perhaps this is why we read this about Jesus:
I've always sort of felt that if Jesus saw the need to get away with his father in the early morning hours, it's a good bet I need it too, right?
So here is your chance! If you’ve always wanted to get up early and never felt like you could, this is your week!! When you think about it, what have you got to lose? Or perhaps more to the point, imagine all that you might gain!
Need some help with how to engage in an intense ongoing focus on God that can change your brain through prayerful meditation? Click here for a seven day journey through Psalm 145 to get you started.
For more exercises, consider my book Sacred Chaos: Spiritual Disciplines for the Life You Have --find it by clicking here.