One thing I know: Christ is a gentleman, and will only come in where He is invited. He’s not fussy, and won’t hold back even if the invitation is brief, clumsy, distracted, cranky, dopey, sullen, or weird. But He does wait for the invitation; so there is no better way to start your day than by inviting Him into your day with a morning offering.
It’s worth praying a quick morning offering even if it’s the only prayer you say that day. I’ve written a few times about my lifelong struggle with depression, which was especially deep and dark in my teens and early 20s. I’ve mentioned that Catholics should seek help for psychological distress beyond just trying to “pray it away”; and I’ve written about how therapy (even secular therapy) can be life-changing, and so can anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs, and how help like this can bring you closer to God.
Nevertheless! During that deeply dark time, there was one short period when prayer, just simple prayer, made a difference, albeit a small one. I started saying, “Lord, I offer this day up to you” every morning. That’s it. And what happened?
I remember this time as being a sort of medium-gray, psychologically, as opposed to the usual inky black. If I had kept it up, who knows how much more darkness may have been driven away? Maybe I would have had the guts to ask for help from someone then, and I might have climbed out of that pit years sooner. As it was, I stopped making a morning offering after a while (because I’m an idiot), and down came the darkness again.
Lesson learned, eventually. I now make a morning offering whether I intend to follow up with more prayer or if I know I’m going to be too lazy or bratty or busy to do more. I make a morning offering if I wake up feeling great, or if I wake up feeling like breathing is pointless. I make a morning offering even if I’m not in a state of grace, because it may help me to accept the grace I need to accept the grace I need to get back in a state of grace. (Nope, not a typo.)
Sometimes I pray my favorite “let’s do this” prayer from the Psalms; sometimes it’s just a simple, “Lord, I offer this day up to you.” And sometimes I forget to do it in the morning, so I say it later in the day, as long as there’s some day left.
The beginning of the school year is a wonderful time to establish the habit of making a morning offering. You can do it with your kids, or you can just remind them to do it privately (this is what my kids said they would prefer). You can write it on a piece of paper and tape it to the front door, so it’s the last thing your family members see when they leave the house. You can make time to say the morning prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours. (Daria Sockey keeps you updated; just click on the right sidebar where it says “morning prayer.”)
The only wrong way to do it is to skip it.
I asked my friends on social media to share their favorite morning prayers. Here they are, in no particular order — or you can always just make up your own.
1. Oh my God, I offer thee this day
All I shall think or do or say,
Uniting it with what was done
On earth by Jesus Christ thy son.
2. Holy Mary, I want to belong to you. I give you my whole self and all the good things I do: at home, at school, in church, on the playground. My mother, I am all yours and all I do belongs to you. Amen.
3. St. Zelie prayed this with her children (including St. Therese):
My God, I give you my heart. Please accept it so that no creature, but you alone, my good Jesus, may possess it.
4. “O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer You all my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of Your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, in reparation for all my sins, for the intentions of all my friends and relatives, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father.”
5. “Heavenly Father I offer you this day, all that I think and do and say. Uniting it with what was done, by Jesus Christ your only Son. Amen.”
6. “Direct, O Lord, all our actions by Thy holy inspiration and carry them along by Thy gracious assistance, so that every prayer and work of ours may begin in Thee and by Thee be happily ended, through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.”
7. On the recommendation of a priest, when life was overwhelming and more and more prayer wasn’t helping: a simple “Please God help me through today” in the morning and “Thank you, Jesus, for the graces that got me through today.”
8. John Paul II’s offering to Our Lady: “I belong to you entirely. All that I possess is yours. I take you into everything that is mine. Give me your heart, Mary.”
9. Jacob Astley’s battlefield prayer: “O Lord, Thou knowest how busy I must be this day. If I forget Thee, do not forget me.”
10. Prayer to St. Joseph:
“Oh, St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. Oh, St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord. So that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.
Oh, St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the Kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, Patron of departing souls – Pray for me.”
“Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding,
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.
You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.
Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace,
that is enough for me.”
12. “Good morning, God. Thank you for today. Bless my work and help me to think of you.”
13. “Hi, God.”
grant that I may meet the coming day in peace.
Help me in all things
to rely upon Thy Holy Will.
In every hour of the day,
reveal Thy will to me.
Bless my dealings with all who surround me.
Teach me to treat all that comes to me
throughout the day with peace of soul,
and with the firm conviction that Thy will governs all.
In all my deeds and words,
guide my thoughts and feelings.
In unforeseen events, let me not forget
that all are sent by Thee.
Teach me to act firmly and wisely,
without embittering and embarrassing others.
Give me the strength to bear the fatigue
of the coming day with all that it shall bring.
Direct my will.
Teach me to pray.
Pray Thou Thyself in me.
The act of getting out of bed represents … the profound reality of the resurrection and that gift of life beyond death to which we are ultimately called. To get into the habit of seeing each day as a mini resurrection is to cultivate a thoroughly Christian attitude toward our earthly existence. Thus, [de Sales] suggests that when we awake:
O dead, arise and come to judgment. (cf. Eph. 5:14)
Or we may say with Job:
I know that my Redeemer lives, and that on the last day I will rise again. My God, grant that this be to eternal glory; this hope rests in my inmost being. (cf. Job 19:25-26)
There! That ought to get you started.