Do you try to pray in the morning, but can’t get seem to get out of bed and focus? Or do you get out of bed and sit in a special spot for morning prayer, but the entire time your mind is a million miles away? It can be difficult to get both our mind and our body on board with prayer, especially in the morning.
That’s why Dr. Gregory Bottaro, a clinical psychologist and founder of the CatholicPsych Institute, developed a morning prayer routine that engages mind, body, and soul.
“I do a little Morning Offering, which is a bit of a body, breath, spirit integration as sort of preparation for the day,” he told Timmerie Geagea recently on Trending with Timmerie. “Even before technical prayer, such as Morning Prayer, this gets us going, this gets us oriented for the day. And study after study shows how much this works and how well this works.”
Dr. Bottaro is offering the full Morning Offering instructions to attendees of this weekend’s Theology of the Body Virtual Conference, but he gave Trending with Timmerie listeners a brief overview. He said:
Get Out of Bed
I usually tell people to change their perspective a little bit. So set your alarm and jump out of bed when your alarm goes off. Just do it. Get out of your bed and just sit on your floor next to your bed. It’s something that you never would do otherwise. It’s a different perspective. This way you’re getting comfortable in a sitting position.
Then do some breaths. Deep breaths into the belly, and in between breaths saying “Ever-present God, here with me now, help me to be here with you.” Do that three times. If you put your hand over your chest you can feel the breath going into your chest, past your hands, into your belly, and then exhaling out again.
Then we do a couple of things. There is first the practice of gratitude. Call to mind three separate things:
- A small thing
- A big thing
- A moment of grace where God has really been in my life
For each of these three things, take a few minutes to put yourself back into the emotional state that you were in when you experienced these things. Again, with the deep, deep breaths. Basically trying to change the atmosphere inside your head and your heart.
After gratitude we go to mercy. There’s mercy in and mercy out. We’re visualizing God’s grace strengthening us, pouring out. You can picture the Cross, you can picture the blood and water gushing forth from the side of Christ. You can picture the heavens opening up and the Father pouring down grace like the rain. Maybe the dove of the Holy Spirit coming and alighting upon you. Whatever you connect with.
We want to think of three people that we want to share mercy with:
- I like to start off easy, with someone you love a lot and it’s really easy to pour out mercy.
- Think about a stranger. Someone you bumped into yesterday, someone at the grocery store, etc.
- Think of someone who is a little more difficult. Maybe it’s somebody who has hurt you.
The point is that in all three of these situations you are feeling that emotion, feeling that mercy coming in, and you’re sharing that by praying for these people, interceding, and truly praying for God’s mercy to pour out to them as well.
Take another couple of deep breaths and then think about how you’re going to accomplish God’s work in your life that day. So we have goals, and we imagine ourselves accomplishing these goals. We put ourselves in a state in which we are already experiencing the joy of accomplishing this goal.
- A daily goal. Something you know you are going to accomplish that day.
- A weekly goal. Something that is bigger than the day.
- A life project goal. It could be a couple of months out, a couple of years out. Something that’s bigger that you’re going to keep on working on day after day.
This way, we are reorienting everything – body, mind, and spirit – into actually fulfilling God’s plan. Now that we have received His love we are going to bring it out into the world.
Learn more about Dr. Gregory Bottaro’s morning prayer routine by signing up for the free Theology of the Body Virtual Conference, taking place this weekend.