In the Spiritual Nurturers class of School of the Spirit Ministry, having trouble finding time to pray and doing it routinely is a common early complaint. Perhaps we imagine that the only prayers that count are long and dutiful. Instead, prayer is about relationship and intimacy with the Source of life and being, more about a certain quality than a necessary time frame or pattern.
There are many ways to pray that take little time. A doctor I knew, following approved practice, carefully cleaned her hands prior to visiting each patient. The hand-washing time was prayer time. She collected herself, centered in God, and brought into that grounded internal space the person she would be seeing. There were no words, and it took only seconds, yet it opened the doctor to being with the patient in a more healing way.
Some prayers are simply responses to a situation— Help! Thanks. Wow! These are prayers because they acknowledge the More, they are felt deeply, and the pray-er is changed.
Slow, deep, mindful breathing can also be prayer. It can be inviting relationship with the Holy, because it is usually done intentionally and often includes letting go the distractions and busyness, even doubts, that keep one unavailable both to oneself and to God. Paying attention to the breath can be paying attention to Spirit.
The deepening of one’s relationship with God, with Mystery, changes the quality of prayer. It isn’t easy. Meanwhile what is most important is to pray as one can and not as one can’t.
How can you pray?
What do you yearn for that draws you to want to pray? What are your concerns?
Silently repeat over and over a brief prayer sentence, breathing in while saying the first part of the words and breathing out while saying the rest of it. For example, “O Lord,/ be my helper” (Psalm 30: 10b).
For further reflection:
“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought . . .” (Romans 8: 26).
“When I felt secure, I said, ‘I shall never be moved.’ . . . but when you hid your face, I was dismayed.” (Psalm 30: 6-7).