In the silence
I am filled
with a stillness
I am learning
in this calm
I can remain
full of peace,
through the chaos
that used to sink me.
I am beginning
supposed to be
in this world,
how to allow
to pulse within me
and gradually take on
of it’s own…
I want more
of this peace,
who shelters me
and gives me freedom
with the wind.
When people say they don’t have time for prayer, I feel very sad for them.
I can’t imagine life without contemplative prayer. As a busy mom who is usually in giving mode, prayer is where I go to recenter myself and find the strength to continue pouring love into those around me. It’s where I find wisdom, discernment, peace and confidence I am positively impacting otherwise hopeless situations I would be powerless to change.
Prayer is my lifeline and connection to God the creator, who makes all things possible, is trustworthy, knows me better than I know myself, comforts me, walks with me through every step of my journey through life and teaches me how to be a blessing to others.
Perhaps you have an even busier schedule than I do, but I truly believe if you are called to contemplative prayer, that desire comes directly from God, who can guide you on how to create more time for prayer in your life and take a lot of burden off you in the process.
Remember in Matthew 11:29-30 when Jesus said “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Though an authentic spiritual journey is full of challenges, God really does have rest for our souls through a life of prayer and interior guidance.
So how can you incorporate more contemplative prayer into your busy life? Here are some ideas based on decades of study and personal experience:
1.Set an intention
Often, we don’t realize how powerful the force of our own personal intention is. Sometimes, we aren’t even really conscious of the intention we’re sending out into the universe. Deep inside of yourself, if you make a decision to devote time to God each day, you are more likely to stay committed to a daily prayer practice.
2. Seek silence diligently every day, preferably at the same time each day
Often in our busy lives as a reflex, we think we don’t have time to pray. But truly, we all have some degree of choice on how we spend our time. Take a moment to reflect: What do you do when you have a moment to yourself? In the early morning hour? Babies nap-time? Late at night before you fall asleep? In your car after a long day of work before you come home to your loud family?
The foundation of contemplative prayer is a decision to regularly seek out silent time to be alone with God, uninterrupted. Sometimes this requires us to make choice to set aside productivity or a time with people to sink into the silence and try to connect with God. Ask yourself: what is the most important relationship you have to invest in? What is stopping you from taking a little time each day to invest in that relationship? Is it really possible to be too busy for God? What do you think your heavenly father would say if you called to say you didn’t have anymore time for Him?
3. Arm yourself with various prayer techniques
Entering into the silence of prayer may sound easy and relaxing, but it’s actually more like a battle with highs, lows and everything in between. I hope you have a beautiful spiritual experience in prayer every time you sit down, but I think you should be prepared for a million thoughts to distract you from sensing God’s loving presence with you because that’s the reality for most people.
It helps to have some solid prayer techniques in your toolbox! I recommend the Rosary, Lectio Divina or meditating on a rote prayer like the Our Father or even a work of spiritual poetry like the one above. The most important thing is to persevere and keep returning your thoughts to God the best you can, inviting His spirit into your heart and mind. Over time, you will become more aware of His loving, healing, calming presence with you in prayer and throughout your days, if you persevere.
4. Trust the process and persevere
If entering into the silence of prayer feels hard to you, that doesn’t mean you’re doing anything wrong! Sometimes instead of feeling blessed, prayer can cause us to feel challenged. In the silence, sometimes we are asked to confront negative thought patterns and even deeply rooted traumas, which are blocking us from deeper union with God. It’s a gift to discover those challenging areas inside of ourselves because once they emerge into the light, they can be healed, and we can move forward triumphantly on our spiritual journeys.
5. Journal through stuck places
In prayer, if you hit a wall of intense emotion or resistance, a journal can be your best prayer buddy! Don’t feel like you have to write anything neat or orderly or poetic – just use your journal as a release valve to vent all the intense emotions you’re feeling or thoughts you’re having. Think of it as getting the “uck” out to make more room for God’s clarity, peace and wisdom to fill in the empty space. I know it seems to simple to be effective, but when teamed with total unfettered honesty and prayer, a journal works miraculously to clear out internal blockages! I would even call it an inner healing tool.
6. Redirect your thoughts to God as much as you can throughout the day
The more time you spend in silence with God, the more aware you’ll become of your own thoughts throughout the day. The more aware you become of your thoughts, the more opportunities you’ll have to redirect them towards God in positive ways throughout the day! When you find yourself worrying, instead you can choose to pray. When you find yourself tempted to complain about your problems, instead you can have that self control to stop and pray instead.
7. Fill your mind with faith and encouragement
To keep your thoughts on God, try fueling yourself with a steady stream of faith-filled inspiration through music, books and podcasts. Even if you’re busy, there are always long car-rides, headphones while exercising or a podcast while folding laundry or the dishes. I recommend KLOVE radio station or listening to encouraging, faith-filled Podcasts (here are a few of my favorites). I have so many favorite books I wouldn’t know where to start listing them! I think that’s a post for another day; )
8. Practice virtue
Having a contemplative heart isn’t as much about getting what we want from God as it is about becoming who God created us to be. Over time through prayer, God purifies our hearts, intentions, thoughts, desires, will, imagination and intellect to be more in alignment with the Love and Light He inherently is. Remember how we’re created in the image and likeness of God? Every time we forgive, treat others lovingly or choose to follow God even when it’s hard, we are shining more brightly the way He intends. There is no work more important than showing mercy toward others!
Luke 6 31-36
Do to others as you would have them do to you. “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
9. Focus on gratitude.
Though we don’t always get exactly what we want through prayer, our Creator is constantly pouring blessings into our hearts and lives, which are worthy of our attention and thanks. When we open our eyes and hearts, we can see God’s presence all around us … in the kindness of strangers, the sparkle in our children’s eyes, the beauty of nature and more. Focusing on gratitude enriches our lives and faith in every way.
10. Serve others.
Throughout your daily life in prayer and actions, try looking as service to others as an act of faith, an opportunity God’s graces into the world. Follow the example of Saint Francis, who wrote:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
Where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
If you are struggling to make time for prayer in your daily life, I hope this provides some encouragement for you! God bless you to always walk on the path God has called you on.
What stops you from spending time in prayer? How are you praying already through your days that perhaps you aren’t giving yourself credit for? What area of contemplation is the hardest for you to incorporate into your daily life?
Lord, help us to do your will in all things. If you are calling us to spend more time in prayer help us to carve out the time and persevere in the silence through good times and bad. Fill our hearts with faith to realize we can trust that time spent with you is worthwhile, even when it doesn’t feel like it. Draw us closer to you. Help us to keep our thoughts on you throughout the day. Fill our hearts with gratitude and a desire to serve You in all we do. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.
written by Nicky Gant for http://www.uniteinprayer.org 4/26/2020