How to Develop a Prayer Rule: Your Best Time

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place where He prayed.” Mark 1:35

“… Jesus made His disciples get into a boat and go ahead of Him… He went up on a mountainside and prayed … About the fourth watch of the night, He went out to them, walking on the lake.” Mark 6:45-48

Sunrise at Bethel Beach, Mathews VA

I am a morning person. Forget the chickens, I can wake up when the bats are still flying. My workday begins at 8:30 am. My First Hour starts before 6:00 am on my days off. This is not a boast of my piety (I’ll confess my worst time next week). I’m just that morning guy.

Some people are night owls. For them, pulling “all-nighters” is a way of life. These people are the ones who watched those incredible plays in the game that people like me watch on the morning highlight footage. God bless these folk who can stand the midnight shift in Orthodox prayer vigils. They truly are blessed and a blessing.

The scriptures teach us that Our Lord prayed at both times. The early Church Fathers recommended that believers would pray in the morning and evening. These two times of the day are the foundation for a regular pattern of seeking intimacy with God. Waking up, the AM is where we approach God to start our day. Before bed, the PM is the place of self-examination and repentance. These two pillars are where a prayer rule should start.

Chanters preparing for Matins (Orthros, Morning Prayers) Antiochian Village, Bolivar PA

Begin where you are most alert and attentive to reading scripture, silent reflection, and thoughts of God. A personal rule need not be a long vigil. Theologian Fr. Thomas Hopko taught believers to “Pray as you can, not as you think you must.” Make an effort to wake up a little earlier or sacrifice a late-night show. You aren’t a monk or nun, just do the best you can. This is easier when you pray when you are at your best. Morning or evening, make it the anchor of your prayer rule.

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