Whatever we do day-to-day, from a busy career to full-time parenting to retirement, our lives are multi-faceted and often quite busy.  The pace is so fast that we find ourselves multi-tasking instead of focusing on the one thing or person at hand.  Even with the best of intentions, circumstances can knock us off course.  Before we know it, we can lose touch with our true faith, family, and other authentic priorities in life.

A daily routine to start centered and focused, loaded with the best of intentions to stay on the narrow path each day, can be a most helpful process.  When we couple that with an arsenal of reminders if we stray during the day, our chance of living out priorities skyrockets.

I think Jesus had daily and periodic routines to stay on track with his servant, love-oriented, and justice mission.  Mark 1:35 tells us that in “the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.”  When his followers found him after they “hunted for him” (v. 36), Jesus indicated that it was now time to go to work.  He was prepared for the day.  Additionally, his post-baptism time and struggle in the wilderness (e.g., Lk. 4:1 – 13) might in part be indicative of periodic seasons of more time in “retreat-like” solitude.

I have experimented with a variety of early morning routines and during the day sayings over the years.  In a nutshell, I get up early and spend about an hour drinking coffee, sitting silently and prayerfully (often with my sleeping dog beside me), reading a chapter or more of the Bible and a short part of another meaningful book, and then going out to walk or run in a prayerful mode.  It helps center me for the day.  When I inevitably stray off-path during the day, I call to mind calm, focal reminders, such as Col. 3:12, to exhibit “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

In weeks to come, I plan to share responses to the following inquiries for insight from interviews with important people in my life.  I invite you as well to think through the following questions:

  1. Do you have a daily practice or routine to help you focus, stay centered, and live meaningfully throughout the day?
  2. How long have you utilized a daily practice?
  3. Do you have an ideal time and place for your routine?
  4. What are the elements of your routine (e.g., prayer, silence, being still, Bible or other reading, meditation, reflection)?
  5. During each day, do you have “mini” versions of a practice or reminder techniques when the day goes wrong or you get distracted to help you re-focus?
  6. Do you periodically “audit” your daily routine for its effectiveness and make changes to it?
  7. In addition to a daily routine, do you have more extended seasonal routines or personal retreats (such as during Advent, Lent, the New Year)?