Many of us were taught as children to “talk to God like a friend.” Okay … but as an adult you may feel too busy for a long conversation. Or you want to talk to God, but there’s always that nagging feeling of disconnect. Where do you even begin?
There are several ways to incorporate prayer in your real life without blocking out your schedule.
Even if we can get ourselves alone these days, quiet is almost impossible. The phone sounds constantly with vital communications. In our vehicles, however, alone time often comes to us. Turn all noise off, even if it’s just for a few minutes, and look up. God sees and is listening to you. Don’t be surprised if peace and joy flood you from within or you suddenly have a different perspective on things.
If you’re unsure what to pray for, pray for others. We all bring the tough stuff in our own lives to God, but praying for others, especially when you are going through your own issues, will have a profound effect on your circumstances. Will God literally change the physical characteristics of a situation? Sometimes; but the reality is God often changes our perspective.
Like anything in life, when our attitude adjusts, the circumstances do as well. So pray for your co-workers, family members, friends, the government, the dude who just cut you off. Whatever life brings, hand it over to God on that car ride.
2. Getting ready to go out
When you’re getting ready for a fun night out, the last thing on your mind might be prayer. In fact, you may be planning a few activities that are more enjoyable when you push that voice way to the back of your mind.
But take even a few minutes to ask God to be with you that evening. Pray for the safety of all in your party. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate dissertation with bowing of head and anointing with Holy Water. Just ask God to be there. I used to think this would be a major downer to the evening, but it’s exactly the opposite: Peace, joy and security seem to “go with me,” and the night is just as fun or better.
3. Just before bed
When we start to unwind, a more sensitive side of ourselves emerges. This is an especially good time to test the waters of prayer if you are skeptical. We don’t always realize it, but there is a natural human craving to communicate with a higher power. Just before sleep, when the lights go out and we face the quiet, we are more open to God.
Taking this time to pray is beneficial, but you may have to use a few tricks to stay awake! Try sitting up in bed or staying completely out of the bed — maybe even good old-fashioned kneeling by the bedside — to stay awake. As you climb in, though, keep praying and let it take you to sleep. The peace you’ll often find is the best tranquilizer on earth.
(For those who have trouble sleeping: Praying in the night will not only calm a troubled mind, it may make that frustrating time more bearable, even pleasant.)
4. When you exercise
The body and mind are so focused and active during exercise, praying would be impossible, right? Not necessarily. Many of us have quieter exercise routines, such as walking or yoga. This is a time we take out of our daily grind and become concentrated and quiet. There are no distractions like computers, other people to talk to or assignments to think about. Focus on your workout and your spirit.
5. When you’ve made a mistake
What if you’ve REALLY messed up and feel it throughout your whole being? How do you pray at that time? I’ve felt this pain keenly … and the answer is pray anyway.
Prayer opens you to God’s love and forgiveness — it’s a safe space to admit your mistakes and decide to change directions. You don’t need to shut God out. Put the past behind you, try to avoid people who want to continually remind you of your failure, and choose to move forward.
If self-recrimination gets the better of you, though, the best way to get past it is to pray for others who are drowning in similar guilt. This turns the tables — now, the mess you thought was unforgivable becomes a catalyst for benefiting someone else. And somehow, that always ends up being good for your heart too.