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Ere You Left Your Room This Morning

By Ashley Dickson

Like every other Mormon household on Sunday mornings, ours was one of chaos. During my teenage years, my three sisters and I rushed through our a.m. routine — maintaining focus on the vanity of adolescence, of course — while battling over showers, mirror space, hair dryers, flat irons, makeup, dresses, and heels.

Living in a house full of ladies, my father was well aware that assembling the family for prayer and getting to church on time was no small feat. But he tried. Oh, did he try.

The goal was the same each week — to meet downstairs for prayer before running off to the mini-van to head to church. In an effort to help us reach this goal, Dad would bellow a number of friendly warnings as we busily primped upstairs.

First came the fifteen-minute warning. Then ten, then five. And then we were late — again.

One Sunday the warnings came on schedule, and when none of us chose to appear downstairs for prayer, Dad lost it.

“D*** THE HAIR, IT’S TIME FOR PRAYER,” he yelled. Hands holding makeup brushes, pantyhose, and curling irons froze. That might have been the first swear I heard in my home.

*            *            *

Fast forward 15 years. I still have problems fitting in my morning prayer. Usually the issue is remembering to make it happen — the habit has yet to be formed. And now there’s no family around to remind me.

Every now and then I’ll be in the midst of blow drying my hair when my dad’s voice will come to me: “D*** the hair, it’s time for prayer.” Those are the days my prayers happen. But more often than not, I simply forget.

So what’s the solution? Is it time to bring back the prayer rock from Primary days? Do I need to post a sign on my door so I won’t leave the house without a prayer? What works for you?

About Ashley Dickson

(Copy Editor) is a Virginia native now living in Boston. She graduated from BYU with degrees in broadcast journalism and home and family living, then spent three years writing and editing for magazines. After earning a master's degree in library science, Ashley now splits her time between motherhood, freelance writing and editing, and consuming dark chocolate.

22 thoughts on “Ere You Left Your Room This Morning”

  1. Oh Ashley–I love it! I share your struggle. Always have. Sometimes the first quiet moment I allow myself is after I've gotten everyone out the door and I turn off the radio and send up a hurried prayer on my way to work. Which is not how it should be. I surely don't have any answers.

    Perhaps I should find me a prayer pillow and have someone cross stitch your father's words on it, just to help remind me!

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  2. I slide out of bed and onto my knees…even if the baby is crying or the boys are fighting or I'm super late. If the morning is really cold, I kneel in bed with the covers around me. Disciplining myself to pray first thing has really helped! The reverse is also true at night.

    I have to set alarms on my phone for everything — taking vitamins, reading scriptures, picking up kids. Maybe something like that might work for you!

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  3. I am a woman who prays best while doing something else. If I am on my knees, I start falling asleep or get too distracted to focus (probably a 21st-century brain or something…too much high-speed internet stimulation). I pray while washing dishes. I pray while walking outside. I pray while on my elliptical. I pray in the car. I pray while I'm in the shower. Yes, I have four kids so it is hard to find moments sometimes when the house or car is quiet enough, but I do get those moments. When I nursed my boys, this was the perfect time to turn to God for me. I guess the important thing is to find something that works for you to commune with God on a daily basis…in whatever way fits best with your schedule and personality.

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  4. Sliding right out of bed on to my knees works for me. Sometimes that first prayer is a little fuzzy because my brain hasn't quite kicked in yet. On the other hand, when I take a minute, while I'm still lying in bed, to think about what I would like to pray about, it can be really effective. If I want to start the day out on the right foot, I have to start on my knees.

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  5. We had a very unreliable car the first three years of our marriage. We prayed every time we had to drive anywhere 'cuz that was the only way we were going to make it. (And we only got stranded once!)

    Now it's habit to pray as a family before we leave the house in the morning. On the rare day we stay home, we usually forget. Sometimes, even if we said one in the morning, we throw in another later in the day because it feels a little wrong not to.

    So that's my suggestion – desperation and unreliable transportation.

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  6. Call me a nerd, but I ALWAYS make my bed soon after I get up. Seeing that lovely smoothed bed is what I use for my trigger. Somehow kneeling at something already done and "organized" helps me have a clearer mind for prayer.

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  7. We are quite good at family prayer and scripture study in the week, for some reason it goes to pot at the weekend. Monday to Friday we always achieve,we have a set time every day. It is hard work but we do it. On a personal note I have always found prayer hard at any time of the day. It is probably the thing I struggle with most. That and humility, not gossiping and controlling my thoughts, and and my temper. I am good at teaching primary, visiting teaching and being reliable in any calling though. Do they redeem me?

    One of my problems is that I cannot do my private prayers if someone else is in the room, or even possibly may come into the room. Tricky when you have a husband, and children who never knock. The bathroom is not an option as we only have 1 for the whole family to share.

    Night time prayer, well, sex gets in the way of that sometimes.

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  8. I, too, slide out of bed onto my knees in the morning. I keep my arms underneath the warm covers to help stay warm. Now, the usual times I forget is on the weekends, when my schedule changes and I am more likely to be forced out of bed by kids fighting than by my alarm.

    What always helps me when I'm trying to add in a new habit is to either make a chart and post it in my bathroom where I'll see it and be able to check it off, or just to make a check mark on my calendar. Then, if I happen upon the chart later in the day when I'm in the bathroom and see that I neglected to do my new habit, I can do it right then.

    The other way to start a new habit is to tie it to something else. For example, I was trying to get into the habit of daily flossing. What I ended up doing at that point was to floss in my car everyday when I was waiting in the kindergarten pick-up line at the school. Again, I usually forgot to floss on the weekends, because I wasn't in the pick-up line, but it still dramatically improved my flossing.

    Also, in case it helps you, once my daughter was out of kindergarten, I went back to my very hit-and-miss flossing ways until I decided that I just would never go to bed until I'd flossed my teeth. I made a checkmark each day on my calendar in my bathroom after I'd flossed. I started January 6 of this year, and I haven't missed a day yet, even though there have been so many times when I was just getting to bed at 2 or later in the morning, so there I was at 2 am flossing my teeth. I stopped having to check off the calendar about 4 or so months into it. Commit to yourself that you will never let yourself get into bed until you've prayed, no matter how late the hour or how tired you are, and if you need that prayer rock to help you remember, then go for it!

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  9. Comment for Kay: I used to be nervous of being 'walked in on' when I was saying my prayers, but after I realized that it wouldn't be a bad thing for my husband or especially my kids to see my saying my personal prayers, it has made it easier. There are times still, when my kids will come in while I'm praying (and it's obvious, since I am kneeling by my bed!). Usually they will see that I am praying and try back in a few minutes, or if they are oblivious, then I just pause my prayer, briefly address the child's concerns or tell them I'll be done in a minute, and then go back to my prayer.

    I remember reading something once where a kid walked in on his mom brushing her teeth and was surprised to learn that she brushed her teeth, since he'd never actually seen her doing it before, even though she nagged him to brush his own. The author related that to having your kids actually see you reading your scriptures and how it backs up what we're trying to teach our kids. When I think that the same thing goes for our kids (and spouses) and prayer, it makes it easier to overcome the potential awkwardness of being walked in on, knowing that even if that happens, it will be a good non-verbal teaching moment.

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  10. I think if we really understood what prayer is supposed to be, it wouldn't take a back seat to anything else.

    A conversation with God. In which He responds. In which we listen, and are literally lifted and carried from our knees to an inward place of peace. Where we can know the mind and feel the heart of God regarding us and our loved ones. A sacred time that isn't a hurried flourish of words, with our appeal to Christ's name scribbled at the bottom.

    We get out of prayer what we put into it. If we treat it like the sacred blessing and opportunity it is, doing it will no longer be the battle. Doing it well, and paying the price to do it well every moment of our lives–when prayers become something we live for–that's the lesson Heavenly Father taught me. Anything worth doing is worth doing well.

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  11. I loved this post and I can really relate to "3 mom o'boys. I find that sincere prayer comes during moments of the day when I am grateful or need to talk. On my knees – I start praying but then find myself working through my own problem without God. I never forget to bless my food but I love those times when I remember to give thanks after the meal as I rinse my plate. Thanks for reminding me.

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  12. I love hearing that so many others have the same trouble! Thanks for all the ideas. I agree with Paradox, that understanding the doctrine of prayer can be a great motivator, but like many other things in my life, I am separated from ideals by a big trench of reality. Still working on bridging that gap. I love the idea of praying while doing other things. I think that might be good for me.

    Lately I've been approaching scripture study as a way to improve my relationship with God, rather than as a checklist item (earth shattering, I know). I think that is a simple mind shift that will help me as I renew my struggle with morning prayer. Whenever it happens, the goal is to improve a relationship, not do a duty.

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  13. I make my bed as soon as I get out of it and then kneel to pray. I haven't always had this habit, and it is definitely easier to do now that I don't have children at home who need me the moment I wake up. It is a good feeling to begin the day with prayer.

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  14. A small sign posted just above the inside handle of my bedroom door which said "'ere you left your room this morning…." helped me. Reaching for the door handle I'd see the sign and take a moment to pray; sometimes standing there with my hand on the handle, sometimes on my knees by the door, sometimes aloud as I walked down the hall.

    I didn't feel like I had to do it in one particular way or say everything that needed to be said just then, just that I needed to talk to Him and start that daily dialogue. Often just one heartfelt sentence was it. Any outward form was acceptable. Over time it became second nature.

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  15. I think your dad's swear word was very useful! And thanks for your post. Though I didn't read it until this evening, just seeing the title on my blog list this morning reminded me to pray!

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  16. It shouldn't be this hard for morning family prayer, but it is! I remember well. Our solution may not be the best, but it did work for us. We just had our morning prayer in conjunction with our breakfast prayer. At that moment we were together. Then after prayer, it was hurry and eat, and then all the rush every which way. But for those brief moments before we ate, it worked for us.

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  17. Me too! I sometimes think I need to remember I am my own mother now! When my children were home I always called them to family prayer, I cared so much for them I didn't want them to miss it. It seems the resident who may have been the most influenced by the call was our budgie (parakeet). He never said another word, but one night as I called "prayer" he imitated my impatient call perfectly and we all laughed though out the prayer. My children do appear to have been influenced in that they all have family prayer in their homes. But, I wish I had a parakeet now reminding me to pray each morning, or a mother. Then I have to remember I am ultimately responsible for myself and my relationship with my Father. I have to call myself to prayer if I love myself and Him. To me that amounts to the same technique others have used for flossing or praying, for any habit that is to be establish, I just have to do it, no matter what, no excuse, first thing in the morning, last thing at night.

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  18. I sure love all you guys! I means gals. Thanks for this post & all the comments.

    Prayer in the morning was always on every goal chart. I pray best in the middle of the night when I can't sleep (like now). We pray as a family most at meals & bedtme as morning departures are so staggered. I think I will try to pray at each departure better.

    True communion with God is what I want to teach my children & have myself.

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