So we’ve all heard someone say, “I’m just not a morning person.” Maybe it’s you saying it! But the idea that waking up early as a virtue seems to be ingrained in our thinking. Often the most successful people in the world are considered ‘morning people’ and as Christians, it is one of the most essential steps to growing in our relationship with God. We know that we must have that quality time reading our Bibles and praying but we often never make it happen. You know the morning is the best time, and as you set your alarm every night you say to yourself, “Tomorrow I WILL force myself out of bed.” But after an hour of hitting snooze, you have to rush to get ready for work, or the kids come running into the room and jump on you (and for those with kids you know it’s game over when this happens).
I was much like this, really struggling to get out of bed, and have that quality time with God. But it was affecting my whole life. I’m not one of those, what you would call “naturally disciplined” kind of people, but I know that the Bible says:
“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing,
but the soul of the diligent is made fat”
“Go to the ant, O sluggard,
Observe her ways and be wise,
Which, having no chief,
Officer or ruler,
Prepares her food in the summer
And gathers her provision in the harvest.
How long will you lie down, O sluggard?
When will you arise from your sleep?
“A little sleep, a little slumber,
A little folding of the hands to rest”—
Your poverty will come in like a vagabond
And your need like an armed man.
These passages talk to us about being diligent and not sluggards. Diligence is a Biblical principle and a character that God expects us to have. But you don’t have to be a ‘naturally diligent’ or ‘driven’ person to become someone of diligence. For two years now I have been waking up at 4:30am nearly everyday without fail. So how have I, a non-diligent made it happen.
5 key tips to waking up early
- Prepare the night before.
This is the most important step, you must get everything ready the night before! Put out the clothes you are going to wear in the morning ready next to your bed. If you’re a coffee person, get the coffee ready the night before so you just have to switch it on, or better still get a programmable coffee machine, so that it’s ready as soon as you get up. Then find a box or a place you can keep all the things you are going to need for your devotional and make sure that you are not hunting around for things in the morning. This will only take about 5 mins every night but will change everything.
- Go to bed earlier.
Everyone always says this, but it’s so important. Occasionally it doesn’t matter and you just have to push through the day a bit tired, but if you want to keep this morning thing up you need to go to bed earlier. Personally i go to bed late because i want a bit of space for me, but when I forced myself to get up earlier, i found it easier to go to bed early as I knew I would get that me time in the morning.
- Use two alarms.
This is the real key to waking up early. You need to set an alarm next to your bed, ten minutes before you get up. If you’re married or have kids in the same room i suggest a quieter alarm under your pillow, like a watch or phone with the volume a bit down so that it wakes you up but you can turn it off quickly so it doesn’t disturb the others in the room/house.
The next alarm you need to place somewhere else in the house, preferable where everyone can hear it (let me explain). This needs to be a really loud alarm, an iphone on full volume works. Why in the middle of the house? Because when the first alarm goes off, you’ll remember that in ten minutes a really loud alarm is going to go off and wake up the whole house if you don’t get up right now and turn it off! Sounds a bit crazy, but it really works, and if it doesn’t once, it certainly will the next time after the whole house has been woken up before they want to be!
Don’t forget step number one, prepare this the night before.
(Note: a quick note, if neither of these alarms wakes you up, you really need to get to bed earlier. Part of laziness is staying up too late and not making the most of the next day. Also check out the next point, we sleep in cycles and maybe you’re trying to wake up at the wrong time).
- Find your sweet spot.
Find that perfect place and time, where you want to be and no-one disturbs you. This sometimes takes a bit of trial and error, but after a week you should find that spot, even if you have to leave the house or try a little earlier! This applies to both the time and place. I tried numerous different places before I found my sweet spot, where I was able to stay awake (hint – not your bed!!) and where no-one disturbs me.
This also applies to time, I have found 4:30am works perfectly. It gives me enough time to get everything done I want to before the kids wake up. I tried 4am and it was too early, and for some reason 5am just didn’t work for me. I didn’t have enough time to concentrate on my devotional without worrying that the kids were gonna come and interrupt. So try a couple of different times until you find the one that you find easy to wake up for and gives you enough time to really engage with God and His Word.
- Have a plan ready for your devotional.
Don’t waste your time trying to figure out what your going to read and study in the morning when you’re still waking up. Make a plan up front and know what you are going to read, write and pray and for how long. Check out our journal to help you know what and how to write during your devotional.
So there you have it, my 5 top tips for waking up early and having a great devotional time. Hope that it helps you build that habit over time as it has done for me.