A few years ago, my prayer life got stuck. Really stuck! Though I’d often struggled to make prayer a regular part of my day, this was different. This time I found myself unable to even find words to express myself to God, and He felt so distant I wondered, “what’s the use of trying?” I’d heard the “usual” advice, such as find a prayer partner, create a prayer schedule, journal, etc., but none of it seemed to work. Finally, three surprising things jumpstarted my prayer life, and made all the difference.
If you find yourself struggling with prayer, here are three ways you may not have considered that can breathe new life into your spiritual walk.
- Incorporate written prayers. A friend suggested that I pick up The Book of Common Prayer, something I was completely unfamiliar with but that is used by many denominations. I’d always been suspicious of “rote” prayers, but in my desperation I decided to simply pray the words that were written out for me. Filled with solid theology and well-crafted language, I found myself moved by their simplicity and beauty. Without the pressure of trying to “make something happen” with my own prayers, I could relax into the gently moving stream of Christians who were praying these same prayers right along with me. Try online versions and apps like My Daily Office for easy access to these written prayers.
- Take a prayer walk. It is said that God has two books: The Bible, and Creation. All of creation speaks of the wonderous nature of the One who created it, so it stands to reason that spending time outside would draw me closer to God. Taking time to notice the leaves and grass and trees, to breathe fresh air and feel the warmth of the sun…every moment of intentional experience brought my mind and heart toward the Lord and inspired gratitude. Try associating places along a regular walking route with specific parts of your prayer time, such as giving thanks when you pass the tree, or petition as you come to your driveway.
- Welcome silence. In a world filled with distractions and near-constant noise, it is hard to find space for quiet. Notifications and emails on our phones, televisions running cable news 24/7, the demands of modern jobs and juggling family responsibilities…silence has become foreign to our daily experience. It took intentionality to turn off my phone and make space to experience silence. I believe our souls long for places of solitude and quiet, and it is in these moments that God’s whisper can be heard. Try sitting quietly for five minutes without distraction. If your mind becomes anxious, focus on a simple prayer like the Jesus Prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.”
These three spiritual activities just might surprise you with their impact. Though simple, they have proven to be timeless disciplines that will jumpstart your prayer life.
-Rachel Anne Ridge
Author of Flash, the Homeless Donkey and her March 5, 2019 release, Walking with Henry: Big Lessons from a Little Donkey on Faith, Friendship, and Finding Your Path. She blogs at www.rachelanneridge.com, where she encourages women to find joy and beauty in their daily lives.