Mondays are bad for me and they are bad for my spiritual practices.
Because my husband and I cherish the weekend as a rest-and-relax time, on Saturdays and Sundays we put the brakes on to-do lists unless it’s absolutely unavoidable. That makes Monday the dumping ground for the previous week’s unfinished tasks plus the staging area for whatever the rest of the busy week might hold.
What this means is that we both usually get dumped into Monday screaming and on fire, both of us kickstarted back into our routines and into the immediacy of everything that needs doing. The result for me is either that spiritual practices get abandoned in the chaos, or – more often – that I go at them in the same way as the rest of my to-do list: with brutal efficiency.
But I don’t want God to be a chore, or one more thing that I have to do for the day. I don’t want to treat Scripture-reading or prayer or listening-to-God time the same way that I treat cleaning the toilets or grading papers. I don’t want what should be a highlight of my day to be something that I sigh over and then “accomplish.”
How to avoid that? Here are five things I’ve started doing that make my Monday spiritual practices a little more bearable:
1. Make it a pause in your day of tasks, not an addition to them. Don’t treat your time with God as something else to do. Make it something that is a break from the other things you do. Think of it as a time to recharge and to gather yourself, and give yourself the time and the space for it. Spend your time with God in an environment that’s pleasant, if you can, even if it means popping outside for a bit or looking out your window or relaxing over a cup of coffee. Be deliberate in setting aside the physical and mental space so that you can really be where you are without a distracted mind and heart. This is an effort of will; remind yourself that everything else will still be waiting when you’re done. You don’t need to think about it right now.
2. Prep in advance. Fat lot of good this is going to do you right now, as I write this on a Monday, but it bears mentioning anyway: prep is half the battle. Have your stuff where you need it – your Bible, your prayer journal, your highlighter, whatever. Know what you’re going to read/pray about/ask God about/think about. The less time you spend fumbling around considering what it is you want to do, the more time you can spend actually doing it.
3. Make it joyful, or peaceful. If you are me, Monday is not the day for digging down into a prophetic book or contemplating Revelation. Start out your week on a note of gratitude or calm or joy. Arrange your Scriptural study or your prayer time around this theme. Even if you’re not really feeling peaceful, or joyful, or grateful, you’d be surprised how your thoughts and feelings might change.
4. Be honest. Something that actually helps me is to get real with God about exactly where I am, mentally, when I meet Him on Mondays. God, I often say, I am so distracted, and also kind of tired, and as much as it shames me I find it difficult to want to be here right now. Doing this helps me acknowledge the elephant in the room, and I feel like once I’ve presented the issue to God He’s happy to help me solve it, and to work with me around it. Being able to tell God I want to be with You, I’m just feeling really human right this second can help more than you might imagine.
5. Go outward. Send a two-line email to someone who needs it. Tell a friend or a family member you love them. Send that person you’ve been thinking of the funny joke you know they’ll enjoy. Go offer some gentle words to your grieving coworker. I’m not saying you have to engage in a full-fledged act of ministry, but sometimes getting outside yourself a little – even at the beginning of the week – helps loads.
When I do these things, I find that my God-time on Mondays gets a lot more productive, a lot more meaningful, and a lot more intentional. The result is that even when I’m screaming and on fire about my to-do lists, the week gets off to a much better start. Maybe these tips will help you experience the same!