in Our Prayer Lives
by Becky Eldredge
Amid our day-to-day responsibilities and evergrowing task lists, it can be a challenge to fit in time for prayer. There is a holy tension between being patient about our prayer lives and being intentional about making time for the most important relationship in our life … God.
Any time can work
When we think about our prayer lives, let’s start with an important point: we can turn to God in prayer at any time and in any place. We carry an inner chapel — a sacred space — and we can call on God at any moment. God is a friend we can talk to throughout the day — as we wake, as we cook, as we eat, as we drive/commute to work, as we play and hang out with our friends. God is available to talk to us as we do laundry, change diapers, run carpool, shuffle kids to activities, oversee homework, and coordinate our families’ calendars. It’s important to remember that we can pray at any time because it’s easy to be seduced to believe otherwise.
We can stop frequently throughout our day to talk to God. It may take some time, but we can learn to be patient about when we can pray and let go of the guilt of having to pray a certain way. We can pray anywhere and any time. We have the greatest prayer tool within us — our own sacred space where only God resides.
There is a delicate balance between being patient with our prayer lives and being intentional about our prayer lives. To grow deeper in our relationship with God means we must spend time with God in prayer. Like all important relationships and responsibilities in our lives, we have to intentionally make time for the things we most value — our family, our friends, and our work. Prayer, too, needs this type of intentionality, and it needs supremacy in our lives. So how do we begin?
Time: We can look at the week and our day, and evaluate when it makes sense for us to commit to a daily prayer time. Once we know when that time is, we can put it on our calendar and commit to it.
Space and place: We can create a space and place for our prayer time. Where is the place we feel called to make a sacred space to come to for daily prayer? What would we like accessible to us in our space of prayer that supports us in showing up to prayer?
Method: What is the gift of prayer that God is giving us at this moment to come to know God? Is it praying with Scripture? Is it music? Is it journaling? Is it reading a devotional? Is it simply being quiet and coming to stillness before God? Whatever the method of prayer is at this moment — name it and claim it.
It requires patience as we grow in our relationship with God because our space, place, time, and method of prayer will change over time. God will invite us to experience Him and get to know Him in various places and times and through various avenues. It is to our benefit to listen as the Holy Spirit invites us to know God, to see where the Holy Spirit is inviting us to come to know God, and through what means we are being invited to get to know God.
Pray as we can, not as we can’t
When it comes down to it, each day we can pray. On days we might not be able to commit to our daily prayer time due to life getting in the way, we can still stop and turn our minds and hearts to God throughout our day. On many days we will be able to show up for our intentional prayer time. Patience is a fruit of the spirit, and this gift of patience helps us learn to pray as we can and not as we can’t.
Becky Eldredge is an ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator and author of the book, Busy Lives & Restless souls. she lives in Baton Rouge with her husband and three children.