I’m semi-retired but still enjoy an active and full life. Looking back over the past year, I can see the benefits I’ve gained from spending quiet time with God in the morning, before the busy day begins. Here are five steps that have helped me get a spiritual boost that lasts the whole day. They just might work for you too.

Unplug: As much as possible, I try to get away from distractions and disturbances such as electronic devices that are constantly popping up reminders, notifications, text and voice messages, and emails. I like to sit on our porch with just my Bible and a notebook and pen.

Relax: I’m someone who is very “task-oriented.” If I’m not careful, my quiet time can become just another to-do to check off. I have to consciously choose to relax and enjoy my time with God. He’s not in a hurry, so why should I be?

Be thankful: I start by writing down five things I’m thankful for from the previous day. This generally provides an instant mood lift. As God’s Word says, “Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”1

Follow a reading plan: Having a reading plan so I know what to read helps me get right to it. I also pray before starting, in case God wants to suggest a change. (I’ve found some helpful reading plans on a variety of subjects in here.)

Focus: Because I have a hard time focusing on what I’m reading, I have found the S.O.A.P. method helpful:

Scripture: After reading a Bible passage, I look back for a verse that particularly catches my attention and I write it in a notebook.

Observation: I write a brief summary of the passage.

Application: I write about how my day will be different because of what I’ve read, lessons to learn, promises to claim, examples to follow, etc.

Prayer: I write out a short prayer for myself based on what I just read.

The early morning may not be the best time for everyone, but no matter what slot we use in the day or night, we can all benefit from stepping back and spending time with God. Without it, we’ll get stressed and wear thin, but with it, we will be better prepared to tackle whatever challenges life may throw at us.