Habits of Waking

Forming Parents

Main Idea

Waking up is a spiritual reality as much as it is a physical one. We cannot be good parents of children until we are children of God. Spiritual disciplines help us pull back the curtains and see reality as it actually is. The goal is to awaken to the reality of God’s love for us and to be sent out to parent in that reality.

Remember, you already have some kind of spiritual discipline that starts your morning. Consider those habits and whether they are disciplining you in love or rush, in grace or anxiety.

Scripture Before Phone

Along with your spouse, commit to a set of practices that make a habit of ignoring your phone in the morning and going to Scripture instead.

Tips to start:

  • Set your phone to Do Not Disturb so you don’t see notifications upon waking; perhaps also set an alarm or change the wallpaper on your phone to remind you.
  • Try going to the same couch or chair each morning and placing your Bible and journal in a place nearby.
  • Try following a reading plan or a devotional, ideally with your spouse or others.
  • Be comfortable with brief readings and prayers as the norm, but let the habit grow to longer times as permitted on weekends or slower days.
  • Consider leaning toward print Bibles, but when you do use a Scripture app, use voice activation to open it so you don’t get distracted with other things on your phone as you open it.
  • When just beginning, tell a friend or spouse that you are trying to develop this habit so they can help keep you accountable. Ideally, try thirty days together.
  • Explore practices like Lectio Divina to help guide you through meaningful prayer or meditation when you are short on time.
  • Don’t get made when you mess up. Habits are norms, not rules, and grace is real, not theoretical.

Waking from sleep may be considered a given, but waking to reality is not.”

Ideas for Kneeling Prayers

Briefly, and beside the bed:

  • Lord, thank you for the gift of another day. Help me walk with your love into whatever work you have called me to today. Amen.
  • Lord, thank you for the gift of a day with the ones you have given me to love. Be among us as we work at play and work at love. Amen.
  • Lord, please help. Remind me of your power in my weakness as I try to love others, despite my exhaustion. Amen.

Remember, you don’t have to try everything at once. One small change can have big spiritual impact. Pick one thing to start.

Further Resources:

The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, Justin Whitmel Earley

The Book of Common Prayer

Revised Common Lectionary

Every Moment Holy, Douglas Kaine McKelvey

God’s Wisdom for Navigating Life: A Year of Daily Devotionals in the Book of Proverbs, Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller

A Gathering and Sending Prayer

Try gathering the family sometime before everyone is about to leave, joining hands and saying a quick prayer together. A parent can say each phrase, and the children can repeat it. Make sure to keep the phrases short in words and simple in language.

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, thank you for this day. Bless us as we work, study and play. Be present with us in all we do. May we bring glory and honor to you. Amen.

Note on Adapting

Your job or life stage may mean that your morning looks quite different. But as a general rule, see where you can avoid screens and rush and instead embrace a short spiritual discipline.

We Always Need the Reminder of Grace: God’s love inspires our action, but our action does not inspire God’s love. Our family habits will not change God’s love for us, but God’s love should change our family habits.