Why slow down? I’m so busy, I have so much to do, and and and.
Life is about more than a to-do list, and getting things done only gets you so far. When you’re walking, you notice different things than you do when you’re running.
But mostly, I’ve noticed a lot lately that God comes to us in the present moment. While he’s in the past and the future, without doubt, the only living we can do is RIGHT NOW.
And so, with that on my heart, here are 7 tips to help you slow down in prayer, from someone who struggles every. single. day.
Take a breath.
This is more than just breathing. It’s about an intentional breath.
God is there. RIGHT THERE.
Make it a habit.
What does it take to establish a good habit? There’s a lot to be read about this, but there are three elements I’ve found most helpful:
- A set time: Try to pray at the same time every day. When you miss it, you’ll feel that: it will be something actually missing from your day (instead of the equivalent of hooky).
- A set place: Find a place that’s comfortable and fitting for your prayer time.
- A set routine: Start and end the same way (the Sign of the Cross is easy).
Associate it with something else.
I know people who have a prayer for when they brush their teeth. I try to pray in the shower, and though I no longer live in a house with stairs, I can’t help but pray a Hail Mary when I go up and down a set of stairs.
Pair your prayer time with something else, maybe something as simple as doing dishes or folding laundry. In the spirit of keeping things from getting too speedy, don’t focus as much on HOW MUCH as you do on HOW WELL you’re talking with God, listening for that still, small voice of the Holy Spirit in your heart.
This might be the hardest suggestion for me to put into practice. Praying. As. Though. I. Have. A. Period. Between. Each. Word. Feels. Silly. And. Even. A. Bit. Like. It’s. TOOOOO. Much.
But it does make me slow down. And in the slower pace, I find a different groove with God.
Set a timer.
You could approach this as setting a timer to remind you or as setting a timer so that you know when you can stop…or both!
On the one hand, let the timer interrupt you. Let it be your reason to turn your mind and heart to God, even if only for a moment or two.
On the other hand, let the timer give you the freedom to just sit and be with God. Know that you won’t waste any time, but that it also won’t take all day.
Find a way to be accountable: maybe you don’t get your daily dose of coffee until you’ve had your daily dose of prayer. Maybe you have a friend who will ask you a well-placed question. Maybe there’s a group you can join to make your prayer something more than just “your” thing.
Use your voice.
Praying out loud makes it…different. Many times, praying out loud keeps me from getting sidetracked and forgetting to finish or continue my prayer.
This also makes my prayer feel more intentional and even more real. It may look like I’m just staring at my phone in my chair, but if you hear the words I’m saying, you know better. In fact, the out loud element may invite you to join me. It may encourage you to try it for yourself. It may make my prayer time something more than it could have been silently.
(Or it may prove that I don’t yet know the words to the Creed…)