PRIME TIME

Perhaps this is obvious, but when it is time to wake up in the morning I frequently prefer not to, and whenever I have the enjoyable opportunity to sleep in I cannot stay asleep.  This may have something to do with having children, but I think there is more to it.  Sleep is having a moment, and rightly so, it is essential for our health and well-being, but I feel this quotation from G.K. Chesterton frames the challenge quite well, “Daybreak is a never-ending glory, getting out of bed is a never-ending nuisance.”

This “nuisance” is like taxes, we can avoid them, but we cannot evade them.  We can avoid sleep, but eventually we cannot do without it.  Here is an experiment I recommend you avoid: go three days without your favorite thing, and then go three days without sleep.  It turns out sleep is actually your favorite thing!

It is difficult to sleep in without feeling lazy (unless you are a teenager). This verse from Proverbs 6:9 rings in my ears: “How long, O sluggard, will you lie there? When will you rise from your sleep?”  No one wants to be a “sluggard” or someone unwilling to work or exert energy, but it sure is a constant battle to sleep well and yet not too much.  I imagine that few of us see this daily occurrence as preparation for life (and work) and also an anticipation of death.

Could it be that my desire to stay up late or sleep in depends directly upon the work scheduled to be done?  Take Sunday evening for example, few ever want it to end because with Monday’s arrival comes work (or school).  We feel it coming on and wish time would slow down.  Inevitably, Monday morning arrives and we want nothing more than to stay in bed.  What is happening here?  It is clear to me that I am using sleep as a way to avoid the challenges of the day!  Heaven forbid that I choose death over life! 

This is why St. Josemaría Escrivá’s teaching is so compelling.  If taking action is the antidote to anxiety, then sleeping in will only increase uncomfortable thoughts, feelings, experiences because I am losing the first battle of the day and inevitably more throughout the day.  The day must be faced full on and waking at a fixed time and dedicated to the Lord’s service is the way to do it.

St. Josemaría Escrivá calls this the “heroic minute,” but I would like to entertain another possibility.  Given the constant need to overcome and discipline ourselves to show up and to “seek first,” I am drawn to the “Little Hour” of Prime which was suppressed by the Church some time ago.  I am drawn to Prime and giving my first and best to God.  Interestingly enough, Prime was traditionally prayed between Lauds and Terce as a way to keep the monks from returning to sleep.  Even the monks preferred diversions to the work before the day, but Prime Time begins with prayer and dedication to the work of the day.

Now, of course, Jesus rose early.  Mark 1:35 says that “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”  Check mate, it is time to discipline myself in regards to sleep.  It is clearly a keystone habit that if done well could be transformative.  I recommend turning on one of the following alarms and to let the Word of God wake you up:

5:14am – “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light.” Ephesians 5:14

6:11am – “Give us today our daily bread” Matthew 6:11

7:07am – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” Matthew 7:07

MORE BY THIS AUTHOR

CULTURE

At the National Eucharistic Congress, Decided Excellence Catholic Media - with the help of Bishop William Waltersheid - will be presenting "Beautiful Revelation: The Eucharistic Timeline". Throughout human history, God has left repeated proof of His presence in the Eucharist and that the Eucharist is the source and summit of our Salvation. God has given us the wisdom. Have you taken the time to understand? Read this spiritual journey through time to examine critical moments that God uses to reveal the truth of the Body of Christ.

This will close in 32 seconds