The Common Rule for Coffee

Deacon Rob shares how coffee prompts prayer in his morning habits.


Do you wake up thinking of coffee? I do. 

I learned to love the bitter taste of coffee when we got to drink it as a senior class privilege in boarding school. Because it was a privilege, I kept sipping that bitterness until it started tasting sweet. Until it became my first sweet thought of the morning.

Instead of berating myself that my waking thought is of anything other than God, I thank God for the privilege of drinking good coffee. Morning coffee leads straight into morning prayer. “Taste and see that the Lord is good.” (Psalm 34:8)

I have discovered the joy of cohabiting habits. 

In his book, The Common Rule, Justin Earley recommends we frame the morning in love rather than legalism. We can do so, Earley says, by going the way of gratitude to God, instead of berating ourselves for what we have left undone yesterday that we MUST do today. This frames our day with a sense of legalism, says Earley. 

Instead, we can choose to go the way of gratitude by establishing Daily Habit One, the “keystone” habit of prayer. A keystone habit is one that leads to other good habits in a kind of domino effect, until we have framed our days with the habits that form our lives. 

Morning coffee opens my senses to life, which leads naturally to a prayer of thanksgiving and praise to the Source of Life and the Giver of All Good Things. This prayer of gratitude for what is in the world, leads us to “use the words of prayer as a generative act of wishing new realities into existence.” In other words, what can be in the world. Which in turn leads to the prayer, “Lord how can you use me to bring these realities into existence?” 

Whatever other ritual might help you with the ritual of morning prayer, do it. It will open your heart to God and to the world, and to doing God’s good work in the world. 

For me, it starts with the ritual of morning coffee. As I did with coffee so many years ago, I have learned to do with my praying. I pray until the bitter turns sweet.

For short Catechesis videos, more information, and daily prayers you might use, check out our Common Rule section of the website.