As promised, this page has a full chapter from the completed Latter-day Morning Book. I hope you enjoy it! If you do, please make sure to download the book when it comes out for free on Amazon on December 17th to December 19th. Enjoy!
♪ (Oh How Lovely Was the . . . ) Why Mornings Are So Special
“Joy cometh in the morning.”—Psalm 30:5
When Else Are You Going to Squeeze In Time?
The next question is when? In your totally busy life of soccer games, Boy Scouts, and church meetings, on top of work and school, when are you going to find the time to work on yourself?
Well, you can try to sneak it in during the day (in fact, you’ve tried, haven’t you?), but with everything going on, you find that your concentration doesn’t last very long or that it’s interrupted with other “pressing” matters.
If you’re like the rest of the world trying to get a little bit more out of your twenty-four hours, you may end up taking time out of your nights and “burning the midnight oil.” But that often leads to health problems and a lack of focus in the daytime as well.
And perhaps Satan is even stronger at night. Church leaders have even taught that his evil influences and temptations (for example, the temptation to view lascivious videos or pictures, especially when the rest of the family has already gone to bed) run stronger when the Holy Ghost has gone to bed.xi
No, the last thing you want is to have to fight against evil in order to better yourself.
This leaves the mornings. Mornings are a special time of day. Have you ever watched a sunrise, one that was unobstructed by fog or mist, and not been touched by it? Probably not. Sunrises are truly special, like a sign from Heavenly Father Himself promising you that you can have a good day.
Prophets and Apostles Want You to Wake Up
If you aren’t impressed by the rising of the sun, let me just add a few words from our beloved leaders on the power of mornings and the importance of morning routines:
“I counsel our children to do their critical studying in the early hours of the morning when they’re fresh and alert, rather than to fight physical weariness and mental exhaustion at night. I’ve learned that the dictum ‘Early to bed, early to rise’ is powerful. When under pressure . . . you wouldn’t find me burning the midnight oil. Much rather I’d be early to bed and getting up in the wee hours of the morning, when I could be close to Him who guides this work.”(Boyd K. Packer)xii
“If you are to be successful . . . you will need to be inspired. You will need to receive revelation. I will give you one piece of advice: Go to bed early and get up early. If you do, your body and mind will become rested and then in the quiet of those early morning hours, you will receive more flashes of inspiration and insight than at any other time of the day.”(Harold B. Lee)xiii
“Whenever I have a serious problem, or some assignment of a creative nature . . . I always receive more assistance in the early morning hours than at any other time of the day.”(Marion G. Romney)xiv
“One of the great reasons, I am sure, why [David O.] McKay has lived to such a good, ripe, and vigorous old age has been the fact that as a young man he developed habits of retiring to bed early, arising early, generally before sun up, when his mind was clear and his body vigorous, to do the day’s work.”(Ernest L. Wilkinson)xv
“Some sleep too much . . . Nowhere do the scriptures say, ‘Thou shalt sleep eight hours.’ Nor do they say, ‘Retire early unless you happen to be a night person.’ There must be an excellent reason for the injunction to retire and arise early . . . You will profit by this counsel if you heed it.”(Joe J. Christensen)xvi
“To those who feel defeated and downtrodden, look to the early hours of the day for your rescue . . . Shadows of yesterday’s grief melt in the rays of early morn’s opportunity.”(Russell M. Nelson)xvii
“Adequate early rest is best . . . ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ is still good counsel.”(Ezra Taft Benson)xviii
“If you go to bed at 10:00 and get up by 6:00 a.m., things will work out for you.”(Gordon B. Hinckley)xix
“Don’t make important decisions or try to resolve serious problems when you are exhausted. Get some sleep. Your mind will be refreshed and your spirit will be quickened. You will have new strength for the task. God will hear you in His holy hill and with a lifted head you will see a new day dawning.”(Jeffrey R. Holland)xx
“What happens in the first hours of the morning will mark your day, will mark your week, will mark your mission, will mark your life.”(Jeffrey R. Holland)xxi
The Savior Wants You to Wake Up
If the words of prophets and apostles haven’t impressed you, let me drive in the point with some counsel from the Savior himself:
“He that seeketh me early shall find me, and shall not be forsaken . . . cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another; cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:83, 124)
This scripture passage, along with many others, indicates the importance the Lord has placed on seeking wisdom and understanding in the early hours of the day. The Psalmist wrote that “joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5), and David, Joshua, Jacob, Abraham, Moses, and even the Savior Jesus Christ rose up early to connect with God and find increase. (See Genesis 19:27, Genesis 28:18, Exodus 9:13, Exodus 24:4, Exodus 34:4, Joshua 6:12, 1 Samuel 17:20, Mark 1:32-35.)
Let’s step back from all the quotes and scriptures for a moment and just think. Once again, can you imagine President Monson sleeping in? How about President Eyring? President Uchtdorf? How about any of the other apostles? It’s simply ludicrous.
Chances are, these great men didn’t just start waking up early when they were called to their positions. Most likely, they already had a steady habit of early-morning excellence long before. Like their successful business and government counterparts, they know that morning people are more proactive, more productive, more successful, and generally happier in life.
Let’s imagine again: How about missionaries sleeping in? If you served a mission, you might have seen it firsthand, but the majority of missionaries are generally obedient and strive to wake up early so that they can prepare to have a day filled with success and the Spirit.
Last one: What if the young Joseph Smith hadn’t woken up early that spring morning to pray in the woods? Would the First Vision still have happened? I’m sure God could have appeared to the boy Joseph at any time of the day and at any day of the year, but wouldn’t that just throw off things? In fact, can you imagine what would become of the lyrics to one of our favorite hymns? “Oh how lovely was the . . . afternoon.”xxii It just wouldn’t seem right, would it?
Back to the Problem
So mornings are important. Check. In fact, it seems that mornings are the optimal time of day to grow closer with God and improve ourselves. But one tiny problem: we are so busy with our lives that we sometimes cannot find time for ourselves (and get enough sleep), let alone a whole morning routine.
For those who fall into the category of extra super-duper busy: unless you’re able to cut less-important things out of your life, unfortunately there is only one real solution—you have to wake up earlier than you do now in order to take advantage of the magnificence of the morning.
You may be groaning inside right now, but actually there are a slew of different time-management practices that you could use just to get the ball rolling.
Some of these practices include defining what activities are really important and then cutting out those that aren’t, eliminating processes that don’t benefit you, and automating or batching simple tasks.
Whichever methods you choose to employ, remember that you are doing it to free up time in the morning. That means if you manage to shave off ten or fifteen minutes from dinner prep time by using a crock pot, then you should be going to bed ten or fifteen minutes earlier and waking up ten or fifteen minutes earlier; you should not use those minutes to watch another YouTube video!
Again, the method is simple—go to sleep earlier, wake up earlier, and then devote that time to your Heavenly Father and yourself.
Introduction to the Ten-Minute Latter-day Morning
Try to scrape together at least ten minutes of free time each morning to devote to this routine. I recommend spending more time, but if you’re really pressed, ten minutes is perfect. You may think that ten minutes is inconsequential, but when you really try the routine, you will agree that it is just enough to bring fulfillment into your life for that day.
But is it possible? The chapter layout of this book shows a handful of steps that look difficult to finish within ten minutes, but I promise you that it is doable.
We’ll cover the exact ten-minute routine more in chapter 15, but I really want to convince you that you can use this program in your life, even if you are extremely busy. I’ve personally used this ten-minute routine myself when I have had early-morning appointments or while traveling, and it still empowers me and prepares me to take on the challenges of the day.
We’ll discuss this more in the appendix, where you can see the minute-by-minute breakdown of the routine, but do you not agree that ten minutes is a doable amount of time? We all can find hundreds of ways to go to bed ten minutes earlier: skipping a couple YouTube videos, getting off Facebook sooner, eating your dinner faster, only emailing when you get to the office, not brushing your teeth (just kidding). I know that if you sit down and think about it, you can find at least ten minutes to devote to the improvement of your life.
The Regular (over Ten-Minute) Version of the Latter-day Morning
Again, I recommend that you spend more than ten minutes if you can. Once you start, you will see the power of the routine and see how all the different parts complement each other and synergize to leave you feeling closer to achieving your God-given potentials than ever before.
The amazing thing is that once you start this routine, you will find more time and focus in your life for all other things, and you will find that your day gets easier.
Eventually you’ll see improvement and realize you’ve become a better person than before—excelling in many areas of your life, like work and relationships and exercise. And you’ll certainly become better in character.
In fact, through committing to exercise in this routine, you’ll find yourself getting stronger. Little by little you’ll find energy to get things done faster, and you’ll find more time that you can devote to your routine. Just try your best; as in the parable of the talents, the more you put in, the more you get out.
By the way, I personally aim for an hour in the morning. And I’m sure that if we start cutting back on some of the silly things we’re doing now, we will be able to free up about an hour as well. Don’t worry, you don’t have to become a hermit—just prayerfully evaluate your life and cut out the things that take up more time than they should.
As you prepare to move on to the next section, please remember that “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass” (Alma 37:6). Ten minutes, or even an hour, each day may not seem like much, but you will soon find clarity in your life that you may have never experienced before.
And now for the moment you’ve been waiting for: the breakdown of the Latter-day Morning routine.