We recite “Modeh ani” upon awakening in the morning, even before the morning ritual washing of the hands, before uttering any other words.
Clearly, not everyone says “Modeh ani” with reverence.
Generally, it is muttered out of habit, when one is still half asleep.
Nevertheless, we persist in saying “Modeh ani,” so that no matter what follows throughout the day, we always dedicate the first moment to God.
Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz