How to Pray When It Feels like You Have No Time
I once had a great spiritual mentor who greatly emphasized the urgency of creating a prayer routine.
He said, “Don’t put off creating a prayer routine—you’re not suddenly going to gain more time as you get older. Make it a priority now.”
Despite his great advice, I struggled to make the time and nothing much has changed. Except that, just as he predicted, I’m even busier now than I was then.
Don’t wait for your life to get less busy before you start praying. Before you count it all as loss and write off a daily prayer routine as exclusively for the saints among us, here are some things to consider.
Prayer is where we begin
All goodness comes from God. We are given the grace to receive and experience and understand that goodness when we recognize who God is. Knowing who God is comes from prayer. We can’t underestimate the power of a regular relationship with prayer.
If you have no structure for your prayer life, start with fifteen minutes at the beginning of your day. Set your alarm fifteen minutes earlier.
When it comes to creating a prayer routine, you’re going to have to create the time. It’s not going to appear out of thin air. Ask the Lord to show you where to make time, whatever that looks like for your season of life.
Maybe God will invite you to say no to social obligations.
Maybe he will open a window to a new book, devotional, or church group.
Asking God for help making time for prayer seems like the most ironic solution, but it’s also the most powerful.
Conversation with God is not an obligation, it’s an opportunity
Every day, there are things we must do and things we are excited to do, and never miss out on doing.
I don’t feel like it’s a burdensome obligation to eat my evening bowl of ice cream or to catch up on my favorite TV shows.
Sometimes, prayer can be so transforming and taxing on our spirits that it becomes an obligation on par with brushing our teeth or eating breakfast—things we must do but not things we count down towards or look forward to.
It’s not a reflection of your lack of love for the Lord, but rather a show of the fact that prayer is so powerful for us, the devil will find ways to make it seem time-consuming.
If you’ve ever found yourself saying, “I don’t have the presence of mind for prayer” or “I just don’t want to give only five minutes so I’ll give ten tomorrow instead,” then you’ve fallen victim to this.
Ask the Lord to overwhelm you with joy for the time you’ll get to spend in prayer.
You’ll find that soon, you will look forward to it and crave it as you do other joys.
Prayer is an attitude
As a writer, I love the structure of language. This word is a noun, that one is a verb, an adjective, a preposition—you get it.
So when someone told me that prayer is not an action (a verb) but an attitude, it really blew me away.
Suddenly, instead of prayer being something I carved out time for, or that I turned on and off, it was a piece of me that existed all day long, in everything I do.
Just this shift in mindset made an enormous difference in the way that I approach prayer and people. I was able to invoke the Holy Spirit for regular conversations; ask for safety during regular tasks; call on Mary to give me patience with people who test mine.
Don’t turn prayer off when you close your Bible. Take it with you all day. Invite God into every piece of what you’re doing.
Praying can be unlikely and surprising
I love to think of prayer as not just the relationship we have with the Lord, but the relationship he has with us. Frame your thinking and your heart to accept your life’s moments as gifts from the Lord.
Here’s what I mean. I have a really sensitive nose. The other day, a woman came into my office wearing an incredibly pungent perfume. It made me so nauseous, I put lotion on my nose to keep from smelling it.
After lunch, I returned to the office and the scent had been replaced. Without prompting, the woman announced to the room, “There was a sale at Nordstrom’s over lunch and I sampled a new perfume!”
What could easily be classified a coincidence or even less in an earthly context was something I understood to be much more through a lens of prayer.
My heart, my spirit (and my nose) were crying out for help even when my words weren’t. God heard me and worked in an unlikely way to answer my heart.
Prayer is all encompassing
We all pray different ways. Don’t doubt your methods, or compare them to others. If you love to sing, you love to meditate in silence, you love to volunteer, you love to pray with others or alone—prayer is prayer.
This week, instead of berating yourself for not praying enough, seek opportunities to integrate prayer more fully into your routine that already exists.
Pray at the pump while your gas tank fills. Pray for everyone you see in the lunch room. Wake up fifteen minutes earlier and sit with God watching the sunrise.
Know that I’m also praying for you.
Erin is a Catholic writer living on the windy plains of Kansas. She loves reading, dark chocolate, sunflowers, and learning to cook.