Legalism Vs Ritual

In evangelical circles we tend to shy away from routines, because so many of us have been nicked by the blade of legalism. I know I’ve wrestled back and forth with morning devotions for fear of it becoming dead ritual. I finally came to a point a long time ago that there are some things I should do whether I feel like it or not. Having a good morning ritual is one of those things.

The Miracle Morning

This may sound familiar to the consecration/ordination candidates because I recently sent them a book about morning routines titled The Miracle Morning. The author, Hal Elrod, lost everything in the recession and dipped into depression for about six months. A friend eventually came along side him to help. He started to snap out of his depression as he studied and engaged the habits of people who accomplish a lot.

Why Not Do Them All

Different people attributed the level of their accomplishment to various habits. Elrod distilled his findings to six things. As he looked at the list, he couldn’t decide on one in particular that he thought would be his ticket to a total turn-around. That’s when it struck him that if people are attributing the practice of just one of these to their success, what would happen if a person did them all each day. Finally, he wondered what would happen if he practiced each of them every morning before he even started his day.

Rudder of the Day

Henry Ward Beecher said, “The first hour is the rudder of the day – The Golden Hour” It often sets the course for the rest of the day. An old radio adage is, “Win the morning and you win the rest of the day.” I think that is a truism. How did you wake up this morning? Did you hit the snooze a few times? Were you rushed and immediately jumped into the day? Did you eat something nutritious or exercise? Did you immediately get on your phone, turn on the radio, or the television? How do you feel right now?

The Issue Is Not Time

You can develop a morning routine that sets you in the direction of where you really want to be heading. The issue is not time in the morning for any of us. Elrod suggests as little as six minutes can set a trajectory that carries on throughout the day. Just one minute on each of these six habits can be life savers. In fact, he created a mnemonic S.A.V.E.R.S.

Prayer and Truth

S is for silence. Silence is about sitting still and not doing anything. This is a bigger challenge than you might think—even for a minute. This can be a time of prayer as well. A is for affirmations. Affirmation is not about lying to yourself, a la Stuart Smalley. Or, even as cute as she is, not like Jessica. It’s about speaking truth to yourself. Kind of like silence, this is rare. We don’t often realize how many lies we are told throughout the day. So you must be proactive and affirm truth in your life.

Preparation and Exercise

V is for visualization. Again, like affirmation, this isn’t weird mind-mastery, self-realization blather. Visualization simply means picturing what you’re walking in to that day. Practically, for me this is writing out a to-do list. E is for exercise. Even if you only do a minute of jumping jacks, it is amazing how it oxygenates the blood and alters your mindset. Not that this becomes the entirety of your work-out routine, but if you only have a minute, it does make a difference. Something beats nothing—every time.

Scripture and Journaling

R is for reading. Reading can obviously be Scripture. Hopefully this is a habit for you and whatever your form of devotions or quiet time includes this. Finally, the second S is for scribing. This is a fancy term for writing. This is simply journaling. The author jokes about his wife cracking open the thesaurus and developing the S.A.V.E.R.S. mnemonic. Javers or saverj didn’t have the same punch.

Winning the Morning

Obviously, if we can allow more time for these we would benefit all the more. If you don’t have a morning routine, I hope you will at least try this—whether you only have six minutes or sixty. And if you don’t like Elrod’s mnemonic, you certainly have the license to come up with your own. The point is we need to start our days well. There is too much at stake to be fiddling with our rudders half-way through the day, trying to set them where they need to be. Win the morning, so you can win the day!
Title Signature Screenshot Cartoon 2015