Whether I “rise at midnight” (Ps 119:62), beckoned by the bathroom, and stay up long enough to pray an interval, or “awaken the dawn” (Ps 57:8;108:2), or if I oversleep and stagger from the bedroom amazed how I slept so long (for once), I have come to the conclusion that there is a best beginning, a superior way to open both the day and its prayer progression.

It’s really plain and simple. Right there in the text: “Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” (Ps 100:4).

It’s there in many psalms’ first verses: Ps 75:1; 92:1; 105:1; 106:1; 107:1; 118:1; and 136:1-3.

It’s mentioned for the first rising of the new twenty-four hour period: “At midnight I will rise and give thanks to You.” (You can’t get earlier than midnight!)

And it’s the vital missing ingredient in Romans 1:21, where the decline of man, or anyman, or anywoman, gets its start: “For though they knew God, they neither honored Him as God, nor gave thanks to Him…” From there proceeds the darkening of the heart—and how dreadful that is!

Me? I’m back to keeping my “gratitudes list”—five new, never-before-mentioned gratitudes each day—starting my mornings by journaling them as I express their thanksgiving to God—yes, even at midnight, if that’s when I first rise. (Of course, that early, they’re things of the day before or the night just spent, or general gratitudes for all God is and what He does.)

Starting this way not only sets the tone aright for the day ahead, but acknowledges the grace and mercy and benevolence of God before I ever badger Him with requests. This only makes good practical sense, for how can I expect good gifts from Someone I don’t recognize and acknowledge as the Giver of good gifts? And not thanking one so gracious is wholly ungracious!

Yes, it’s right and proper to thank Him before we go to bed, but it’s only right to enter His gates next morning in the same spirit of gratefulness.

And so I plan to do.

And here’s a special gift that can help us do it. Another link to Ann Voskamp’s site, and a really cute little mini-book you can download and print out (at the end of her post for today), plus a link included right there with it, to a slick video instruction in how to fold, snip, and (a second time) fold it together into its delightful little form. Have fun with this and enjoy your blessed gratitudes!