As I write about here, I have discovered a great deal of value in “bookending” with practices such as prayer, devotions, meditation, breathwork, silence, gratitude, service, purpose, tapping, and more. These practices help me build my spiritual fitness and put on the armor of God each day.
For this reason, each morning and evening, I lead my entire family through the Spiritual Disciplines Journal routine that I describe here. But I also have another spiritual practice that I perform even before our family routine.
Each morning, after I wake, wash my face, drink a giant mason glass jar full of water and minerals, and do all my silly Ayurvedic self-care routines (such as coconut oil pulling, tongue scraping, gargling, and jumping up and down on a trampoline), I venture down into the basement, sit on my organic hippie-dippie meditation cushion, and proceed with the following:
First, I put on a good Spotify worship playlist. (I'm currently digging the channel “Soaking Worship.”)
I then light incense and a candle (for reasons I describe here).
Next, I do one to three rounds of seated breath work, which is basically Pranayama-esque fire breathing Wim Hof style, with big inhales and long exhale holds. This does a good job of “charging up the body” with energy, especially when combined with the music in the background.
Then I pray, and for this opening prayer, simply pour out my heart to God, or sing a song of worship, or pray a prayer from Scriptures, such as the Psalms. (If you don't know how to pray, you may want to begin with something like this, and here are ideas/examples of other good prayers from the Bible.)
Next, I read a passage from a devotional (currently I'm reading My Utmost For His Highest by Oswald Chambers), and study the passage in the Bible from which the devotional reading is derived.
Then I pray again, but this time, pray just a bit more “in the head” than that initial prayer “from the heart.” I open the Notes app on my phone, where I keep a list of everyone I've committed to praying for or events, needs, issues, and people I want to pray for, and I spend time praying over each of those situations, sometimes a few and sometimes all, depending on how good I was at getting up early enough in the morning that day (hint: getting up early for this is important to me, and I recommend you consider being just a *little bit* more tired during the average day if it allows you to worship God and care for your eternal soul each morning!).
Finally, with a blank journal open in front of me, I sit in silence. I'm simply listening for the voice of God, whether that voice comes as a response to my prayers, or as a specific message for me that day.
I then blow out the candle and incense and venture upstairs where a precious cup of coffee or tea awaits me. Yep, that's my carrot on the end of the stick, and I always prep the water and coffee/tea prior to heading into my devotions, so that I know it's there waiting for me afterward. It's those simple mental tricks, my friend, that make a habit stick.
So to review my full morning devotions routine:
…wake up and prepare my body…
…end my practice with a “carrot” such as hot coffee or tea.
Why bother sharing this all with you?
First, in the style of my books Fit Soul and Endure, I write these types of things so that you can get ideas for buttressing your own spiritual foundation. Nothing would please me more than to know that you were able to discover through my writings not just body and mind optimization, but also spiritual optimization.
Second, I would be quite grateful if you were to respond in the comments with the following, as I'm always seeking good recommendations:
- Your favorite devotional.
- Your own devotional practice (I love studying and learning from the practices of others, such as a recent devotional I found on “spiritual biohacking” entitled Biblical Secrets To Heal Your Body & Soul by Kathleen Hampton).
- Your favorite book of prayers, either a new prayer for each day of the year or specific prayers for specific occasions, such as holidays, health needs, business/work-related items, simple praise, worship, etc. (This is a big one for me as I haven't found a good one yet, but someone may know!)
Feel free to leave your comments, questions, and feedback below. I read them all!