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Focus on showing up, making time for prayer

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Pastoral Points

Have you thought much about prayer lately?

Maybe you struggle, like I sometimes do, to get into a habit of regular prayer amid a full life and fluctuating schedule. If that’s the case, you may want to focus on steadiness over creativity. For a few weeks, don’t let yourself get bogged down in details. Just focus on showing up and making time to communicate intentionally with God. Talk and listen in whatever way is easiest for you.

Pray what’s on your heart — anytime and anywhere. Pray for those you know and those you’ve heard of who are suffering in any way. Pray for your family and friends to live always in God’s care. Pray for God’s strength and guidance in the various roles of your life. Those kinds of prayers are always relevant and meaningful.

It’s important to expand our prayers as well. Pray for the needs of those you hear about in the news — anyone who is suffer ing, close to home or around the world. Pray for civic leaders, the health of the church, and the wellbeing of creation. Praise God for his glory and goodness. If your own words aren’t flowing well, use others’ words. Pray the Psalms. Use lectio divina (contemplative reading) to pray any scripture. Find a hymnal or prayer book and pray the beautiful prayers that have been collected by the church through the centuries.

Try using a simple liturgy for the church’s daily prayer offices — morning prayer, evening prayer, and compline. In the morning, we pray for strength and guidance to face the day, and to face all that remains of our lives. In the evening, we pray that God abide with us as the sun fades, and as our lives fly by. At bedtime, we pray that God give us peace as we close our eyes in sleep, and again when we close our eyes in death. In these prayers, we live the whole day mindful of God’s never-failing care.

Maybe you’re a visual person — use artwork to pray. Draw your prayers, or doodle the names of people who need God’s special care. Contemplate a piece of art and see what God says to you through it. Maybe you like to move — there are a variety of options for praying with the body.

These kinds of resources open our hearts to hear God in the many ways he speaks to us. If you’re feeling scattered, commit to practicing one method with regularity for a few weeks. If you’re feeling stuck, try listening and speaking in a different way.

Over time, with consistency, our prayer life shapes the way we encounter the world. When we nurture our relationship with God, that relationship gradually becomes the lens through which we experience our whole lives. This is how we live our Lord’s own prayer, that we abide in him and he in us (John 15).