If you’ve grown up in the Christian subculture or hung around Christians for any amount of time, you might have heard the expression “having a quiet time” somewhere.
It’s supposed to be a time when you study the bible and pray, ideally at the start of the day, alone, before the kids get up. If you do this regularly you will become, it’s supposed, a spiritual giant or, at the very least, somewhat more saintly.
Being very serious, just for a moment, there is nothing like time spent alone listening to the Almighty to grow a person and to develop their ear for the leadings of the Holy Spirit. A morning pattern worked well for me for years as a single but it faltered somewhat when I got married (warm husbands adding to the appeal of warm beds, so I shifted my quiet time to evenings) and crashed and burned when I had my first baby.
I was still hungry for God, saw the point of regular daily time with Him and craved alone time more than ever but getting up early was a challenge, nay, at times, impossible. My second child, in particular, was one of the worst sleeping babies you will ever meet, averaging 7 wake-ups a night until he was close on 2. Around the 8 month mark with each baby, I got back into a regular prayer and bible-study time, using their after-lunch nap-time as an almost guaranteed space in the day. (If you’d like some tips on praying through a period of exhaustion, I recommend this post).
Hello Mornings was how this night owl cracked morning time with God again, a mixture of encouragement, practicality and accountability, all rolled into one. It’s only for women (sorry, guys), but it’s perfect for Mums. Here’s how it works.
Hello Mornings is an organisation which creates on-line bible study and prayer groups. It’s non-denominational but broadly evangelical – we have a few Roman Catholics in our group as well – the women involved just want to dig deeper into their bibles.
You sign up on the Hello Mornings Site and choose a group to belong to. Groups are up to 15 women and are divided into Twitter, Facebook and Instagram groups. They each have at least one Group leader who facilitates the group. They are also divided roughly into different time zones. The majority of HM women are in the States but there are now lots of groups in other countries like South Africa and Oz. There are UK-only groups and some, like mine, are Europe-wide.
Hello Mornings starts a new 6 week “challenge” every 2 months and everyone is sent a free bible study, although some in your group may choose to follow their own bible study.
Each morning, we check in on our group’s Facebook page (or on Twitter etc) and say hi, comment on the bible study, share prayer needs and generally encourage each other. It’s not live and you decide what time you get up but being in roughly the same time zone means most of the comments come in within a couple of hours. Others may check in later in the day if their morning went pear-shaped or if they have a prayer need or story to share. You also don’t have to spend a minimum amount of time. Some in our group manage an hour, I generally fit in half an hour these days but it can be much less and some only fit in 10 minutes. It’s all about baby steps!
That sums up God-time. Each woman also makes a goal to Plan and Move, the idea being to be better stewards of our time and bodies. Hello Mornings provide some really good planning pages but some women decide that their goal is to plan meals for their family or to make time to read each day or something. I started planning my days the night before as I’m really a natural night owl and it has revolutionised my days and my productivity and sense of purpose.
I’m less good at getting to the Move part. Most women don’t exercise first thing if they have kids but we’re all trying to build exercise in somewhere, if somewhat sporadically for some of us! I do find the bible study goes better if I’ve woken up by doing a few sit-ups and crunches first but it’s a tough discipline!
I was really worried when I signed up 2 years ago that all the women in my group would be super-Christians, getting up at 5.30 am to pray for 2 hours. Actually, there is no set time when you are ‘supposed’ to get up but the idea is to get up before your kids if you have any. I’m lucky that in the season when my son woke up at the same time as me that he would happily play quietly but others find that harder.
I’ve now got to a stage where I genuinely look forward to getting out of bed and spending that time with God before I have to handle my family (although my bed and husband are still as lovely and warm!). The accountability keeps me going with the habit and it has played a HUGE part of my exit from severe post-natal depression. My days are also much less chaotic because of the planning and I’ve even gone back to running on a semi-regular basis. I love my group – half of us have been in it for at least the last 18 months – and I can be honest in my requests for prayer as confidentiality is pretty much guaranteed as none of them know my other friends.
As I write this, a new Challenge is about the start and registration is just kicking off. If you think the accountability and encouragement of a group bible study is what you need to get you into a morning quiet time routine, then Hello Mornings could just be up your street. See you there?