Last week, when I taught you about how to use a simple candle flame to shift your brainwave state, I also told you about my morning prayer, Scripture reading, devotional, and meditation practice.
In case you didn't have time to read that article, the gist of it is that within the first hour after waking I intentionally carve out time to light a candle, burn incense, pray, study a section of the Bible, read a passage from a devotional, and then later, complete a gratitude and service meditation with my entire family.
Here's what's important: Though I do meditate and pray at other times during the day too, I make it a high priority to do the lion's share of my personal spiritual care in the morning, specifically prior to “jumping into” work, calls, e-mails, writing, etc.
Before I began to prioritize doing these spiritually oriented activities in the morning, I would simply squeeze them in wherever they happened to fit during the day: sometimes during a mid-morning break, sometimes after lunch, sometimes before bed, etc. based upon my thinking that, similar to the best kind of exercise program, the best kind of spiritual fitness program is the one that you are actually able to do based upon your schedule.
But recently, on one of our Ben Greenfield Life team huddles—which we have each weekday morning at 9:45 Pacific time as a company-culture-building, virtual get-together via Zoom—the question theme for the day was:
“What is the top thing you do during the day to stay present?”
While there were plenty of good answers to this question for our team huddle, such as breathwork, eye contact, avoiding multi-tasking, keeping the phone in airplane mode, etc. (and incidentally, I've written elsewhere about the vast importance of prioritizing presence), my own answer was that…
…the number one thing I do to maintain peace of mind, spirit, and presence is indeed that morning “time with God,” and even more specifically, my petition to God at the end of that morning time to “anoint me with the Holy Spirit.”
See, as Jesus is preparing to go to be crucified, and he is speaking to his disciples during an evening meal at the Passover Festival, he tells them, in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Later in John, Jesus promises that the Helper he is leaving with his disciples—the source of that internal peace—is the Holy Spirit. So I pray each morning that I will be anointed with the Holy Spirit (literally, I say at the end of every morning devotions, “God, please anoint me with the Holy Spirit today“), and subsequently, I find that this prayer bestows a great deal of peace and even greater ability to be present during the rest of the day, especially compared to the times when I used to be in so much of a rush that I would fail to trust that God would provide me ample time to complete my daily tasks, and thus, I would skip my morning prayers, later finding myself stressed and distant from the daily union with God that my heart craves and that my soul feeds upon. Of course, I would also find myself far less capable to be peaceful and present.
Furthermore, when you begin each day devoting and committing yourself to time with God and a request not only for an anointing of the Holy Spirit but also for the forgiveness of your sins and a petition that God would mercifully create in you a clean heart and a daily, spiritual “car wash” (incidentally, praying through Psalm 51 is a great way to do this), you will find that the fruits of the Holy Spirit pour into any task that you complete during the rest of the day, even the most trite or drudge-filled tasks.
E-mails become more graceful.
Phone conversations become more patient and peaceful.
Meals become more joyful.
Conversations with your friends and family become kinder.
Interactions with co-workers and colleagues become more gentle.
Self-control and resistance to temptation become more masterful.
Forgiveness and setting aside anger and bitterness become a natural practice.
Any task that might normally be associated with negative energy becomes infused with positive energy, and yes, that includes how you feel when you flip your phone out of airplane mode and experience the barrage of texts, notifications, e-mails, and random requests for your time.
Galatians 5:22-23 says that “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control…” As my mother used to tell me, if you are right with God, if you are filled with the Spirit, and someone bumps you, aggravates you, annoys you, or upsets you, what subsequently spills forth can be either honey or vinegar.
So which fruit do you desire? And how do you start each day to ensure that, by the grace of God, the fruits that pour out of you are pleasant, present, and peaceful? Feel free to leave your thoughts, comments, and feedback below. I read them all.