Is your prayer time over before you know it? Gone through the list and all finished?
Sometimes, we get into a routine (yes, routines can be good, but…) and over time, our prayer life can become a bit too easy.
If you find that you’re just naming names and moving on, or rushing through the same-worded prayers each morning and evening, without giving deep thought to their deep meaning, take time to pause. Reflect. Maybe, for a few days, limit your petitions to three things and spend all of your time praying over them (rather than that laundry list of pleas). Or, force yourself to spend one of your prayer sessions in total silence – no words coming from you, but rather training your ears to listen to that small whisper inside that is Spirit, God.
Yes, prayer is wonderful. But like many of the things we do on a regular basis, we might find that it becomes too easy and too regular. If you notice this in your life, it’s okay. Just find ways to bring your prayer back from ordinary to, once again, extraordinary!
Lately, my pain experience has been much like playing that arcade game where you hold a hammer and wait for a thing – sometimes an artificial mole, sometimes something else – to pop up from one of the many holes on the game playing board. When you see the “thing,” you’re supposed to hit it with the hammer, driving it back down the hole and scoring points when you do. Seems simple, and it seems as if it would be easy to win.
No sooner do you drive one mole/thing down into its hole, but another pops up on another part of the board. Okay, you think, I’ll get that one, too. But, as you reach over with your hammer, you notice a third mole thing pop up from a different hole. And a fourth.
No matter how much you work at it, you’re playing a losing game. The pain, like those mole things, won’t go away, but rather seems to relocate as soon as you get one area even moderately under control.
Of course, I’m not doctor, and we all have to work with our docs to cope as best we can with the physical and psychological parts of our pain.
But the spirit – now, there’s the part that can be more difficult. Why? Because it can become easy to get so frustrated that you throw down your mole-thing-hammer and give up, letting the spirit curl up inside and retreat. Yes, easy, but I try to work around it.
I fill up every “hole,” every area where there is minimal or no pain, with gratitude – praising and thanking God for the relief there, specifically there. I use the recognition of relief, however faint, in some parts of the body to turn into faith that some lessening is possible, and I trust that this could “spread,” just as, sometimes, the pain can spread.
In short, when I feel frustrated that pain won’t completely go away and it seems as if I’m playing a losing game, I give my spirit something else to do, something positive, and this helps me tremendously as I go back, yet again, to my medical team, treatment protocols, and other tools.
When the spirit is busy with pouring forth its goodness, it cannot turn sour! It cannot retreat!
“I’ll get this report done before I call a friend; I’ll have time later.”
“I take this easier class instead of the hard one; I’ll get less credit, but I won’t have to work as much.”
Each day, we make decisions to substitute one activity for another – and often, we put off the more important one, or at least the more loving one, and substitute it with something that seems better…maybe.
Once in awhile, this might make sense – work, exercise, balance, each of these and other things are important, too. But sometimes, we opt for the obvious when, if we stretched ourselves a little more, or took a bit more time to consider, we’d decide differently – accepting no substitutes for excellence in our actions.
Today, think about the things you could do to take better care of yourself, your relationships, you job, your well-being. Accept no substitutes for excellence – and go farther than you ever thought possible!
When I was a youngster, I used to be really mad that people in church seemed to rush through the prayers.
“They’re going too fast,” I used to tell my mother. “They should slow down.”
As I developed my own prayer life, I realized that there were times when I’d pray quickly, too. Perhaps I was in a rush, or perhaps I knew the words to a memorized prayer so well that I just tripped over the words like so many stepping stones.
Now, I try to slow down enough to savor the words, one word at a time. I find that this helps me focus my prayer time and the words in a prayer, whether memorized or improvised, settle down more deeply into my soul.
When we take our prayers one word at a time, we realize how beautiful prayer is, and how profound each word is.
Yes, take prayer one word at a time – and open up a whole new world of understanding and spiritual growth!