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No Time for God? Begin with these three Steps.
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Dear friend, 

I hope your weekend was relaxing and restful!  

Let's do a quick check-in from last weeks' work....

How did it feel taking your "spiritual pulse" and "assessing the situation of your spiritual life"?  I hope that you came to some new insights about what you are longing for and what God is hoping for you also.  

This week we will consider three vital pieces of living an intentional prayer life:

1.  Our time of prayer
2.  Our place of prayer
3.  Our space of prayer

Know that as you make this journey toward committing to bringing God into your daily life, I am praying for you!  Please do not hesitate to reach out with any comments or questions as we move forward.  

Peace,
Becky


P.S.  If you missed last week's reflections, you can find them here.  

Week 2 of 4:  Begin with These 3 Steps

We commit to new things in our lives frequently -- we might start a new exercise program, a new way of eating healthy, a new program at our church, or a new professional development program.  With our children, we often make and honor commitments on their behalf as we seek to help them develop physically, socially, spiritually, and academically.  We shuttle them to sports practices, dance, gymnastics, piano lessons, or tutors. Each of these things requires us to be intentional about showing up and honoring our commitment.  

The same is true for our relationship with God.  To make space for prayer in a busy calendar, we can start with answering these 3 questions: 

1.  When will my time of prayer be?
2.  Where will my place of prayer be?
3.  What will be in my space of prayer?

When we want to add a new routine in our lives, it requires planning and thoughtfulness.  If we were starting a new exercise program, we would take the time to prepare ourselves by getting the right gear, figuring out when we are going to exercise, and figuring out what we are going to do.  Or if we wanted to begin eating healthy, we would prepare our kitchen.  We would ready our space, think through meals ahead of time, and set ourselves up for success. 
 
The same is true for our prayer lives.  If we desire to grow in our relationships with God, then we need to honor this the way we would starting a new exercise program, a new diet or any new thing that matters to us in life.  

What will help us be successful in growing our relationship with God? 

Preparation!   St. Ignatius, in his Spiritual Exercises, suggests that we prepare each night for the next day's prayer time (#73).  Most of us are not making the Spiritual Exercises, though.  Igantius' wisdom applies to our daily prayer lives. Thinking ahead about our time, space, and place of prayer allows us to integrate our prayers lives into our daily lives.   

In week 3 of our series, we will look at picking and preparing our material and method of prayer.  
 



A Word on Restlessness:
 
From my own faith journey and from years of listening to other’s faith stories, there comes a time in our relationship with God where we are invited to go deeper.  It’s not that God was or is M.I.A. from our lives when we we slap together a few prayers here and there or throw up a word of thanks or help to God.  God is there and present and hears these prayers!  This is all part of our faith journey.
 
Eventually though, we come to period of life where there is a tugging at our heart for something more or we feel a gnawing restlessness within us.  If you are feeling either of these, consider this is an invitation from God!  This is the Holy Spirit at work in your life inviting you to draw closer to God.  

What do we do if we feel restless? 

Acknowledge the existence of your restlessness.  Rest assured that this is God at work within you!  Our desire for God is prayer in itself.  Trust that God is working through this desire to draw you closer to himself.  We are built for God, which means we are never alone in our search for God and our journey to grow in our relationship with God.  (I remind myself of this constantly on the days I slip or the seasons of life that prayer feels dry.)
 
After acknowledging your desire for God, commit to making time for God.    When we meet a new friend, we make time to get to know them.  Or even with old, trusted friends, we make time for them because of the depth of the relationship and the gift that it is to be with them.  Whether you are just setting out on your relationship with God or you are old friends but desire to grow deeper, honor your commitment to growing in your relationship with God by being intentional about three things:  your TIME of prayer, your PLACE of prayer, and your SPACE of prayer. 

Do you notice a sense of restlessness in your life?  
Weekly Reflection #1: Finding Your Time of Prayer

When does it make sense for you to spend daily time with God?  Can you carve out a few minutes in the morning over a cup of coffee?  Or perhaps it's during your workday?  Or maybe you find your time of prayer in the late afternoon or evening as the day comes to a close? 

Think about the routine and rhythm of your day to day, your calendar, your commitments, and your responsibilities.  When is a realistic time for you to commit to daily prayer? 
 
For instance, there is no way I can dream of making time for prayer in the afternoon time slot that consists of carpool, overseeing homework, getting kids to their activities, making dinner, and getting kids to bed.  My responsibilities as a mother invite me to be present to my family at that time.  Nor does middle of the work day work for me.  I find it hard for me to break away from work projects and be still. 

After many different tries, I discovered that my time for prayer, in this current season of life, is in the early morning before my kids wake up sipping a cup of coffee in the quiet of my home. 
 
That’s me, though. What about you? Be realistic with what will work.  Pick a time for your daily prayer and honor it the same way you would any appointment on your calendar.  

 
Weekly Reflection #2:  Picking Your Place of Prayer

After finding your time of prayer, let's turn to your place of prayer.  St. Igantius’ wisdom is worth mentioning here again.  He suggests sticking with your place and posture of prayer until it no longer helps you grow in your relationship with God (Sp. Ex. #76). 

There is a value of having a regular place of prayer.  As you continually enter into your place of prayer, your body and mind  begin to know exactly what you are doing in this place, and it helps still the mind and body. 
 
Currently, my place of prayer is in a chair in our bedroom.  Prior to our recent move, my place of prayer was in this same chair but it  was in my home office where I met people for spiritual direction.  Like my time of prayer, my place of prayer changes over time according to the seasons and rhythms of life.

Where might your place of prayer be?  Survey your daily routines and surroundings and ask yourself:  
  • Where is a quiet place that is part of my normal routine that I can go to daily?  
  • Where is a place that has minimal distractions and interruptions?  
  • Where will help me enter into quiet and silence more easily? 
Once you have your time and place picked out, turn to creating your space of prayer.  
Weekly Reflection #3:  Prepping Our Space of Prayer
 
What does your place of prayer need to help make is a Sacred Space?  

This is not unfamiliar to other preparations we do so that we can prepare for success. We might gather our gear to begin a new exercise program, we might even have a playlist of new songs that will inspire us during our workout.   We might gather what we need to begin a work project, having things that will make completion of the project easier.   In our home, my children often prep their homework space with sharpened pencils, erasers, pens, colors and markers so everything they need is nearby.  

How can we prep our space of prayer so that it helps us more easily come to stillness in our lives?  The idea here is to have all that you need nearby so you are not spending the time you have set aside searching or scrambling for what you want to use in prayer.  I also suggest having items that serve as reminders of God and God’s love to help you enter the sacred space of prayer.
 
My prayer space typically has a bible, a candle, photos of my family, a picture of Mary with the baby Jesus, a statute of St. Ignatius, and a few meaningful items giving to me by friends and people I met on retreats or within spiritual direction.  All of these items remind me of what I will be doing with this time of prayer  in this sacred space of prayer.  My space of prayer encourages me to return to daily prayer as it becomes almost like a sanctuary of rest, stillness, and peace.  
 
What about you?  What do you want to include in your space of prayer?  This week, not only pick your time of prayer and place of prayer, but make it a meaningful space for you.  

By the end of the week, my hope is you are ready to turn to the next piece of living an intentional prayer life - building a toolbox of prayer tools.  

Once you know your time, place, and space of prayer, share it with us on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook with #TimePlaceSpace!


Strength from the Word of God

I chose these seven scriptures as examples of the place, space and time that Jesus spent in prayer. I hope that these will give you the encouragement you need to find your rhythm of prayer this week.

Luke 4:42 - Jesus prays even though people need him
At daybreak, Jesus left and went to a deserted place. The crowds went looking for him, and when they came to him, they tried to prevent him from leaving them.

Luke 5:16 - Jesus makes time for prayer within his work 
The report about him spread all the more, and great crowds assembled to listen to him and to be cured of their ailments, but he would withdraw to deserted places to pray

Luke 6:12 - Jesus withdrew to pray for a night    
In those days he departed to the mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God
 
Luke 22:41-44 - Jesus begs God for help
           After withdrawing about a stone’s throw from them and kneeling, he prayed, saying, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done.”  And to strengthen him an angel from heaven appeared to him.  He was in such agony and he prayed so fervently that his sweat became like drops of blood falling on the ground.  When he rose from prayer and returned to his disciples, he found them sleeping from grief.  He said to them, “Why are you sleeping? Get up and pray that you may not undergo the test.”

Mark 1:35 - Jesus found a deserted place to pray in the morning
Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.

Matthew 6:9-13 - Jesus teaches us how to pray
This is how you are to pray:  Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven.  Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one.

John 17:1-26 - Jesus prays for us
When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him.  Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do.

Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began.  I revealed your name to those whom you gave me out of the world. They belonged to you, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word.  Now they know that everything you gave me is from you, because the words you gave to me I have given to them, and they accepted them and truly understood that I came from you, and they have believed that you sent me.
 
I pray for them. I do not pray for the world but for the ones you have given me, because they are yours, and everything of mine is yours and everything of yours is mine, and I have been glorified in them.And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are.  When I was with them I protected them in your name that you gave me, and I guarded them, and none of them was lost except the son of destruction, in order that the scripture might be fulfilled.  But now I am coming to you.
 
I speak this in the world so that they may share my joy completely.  I gave them your word, and the world hated them, because they do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  I do not ask that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil one.  They do not belong to the world any more than I belong to the world.  Consecrate them in the truth. Your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, so I sent them into the world.  And I consecrate myself for them, so that they also may be consecrated in truth.
 
 I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me.  And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me. 
 
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.  Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me. I made known to them your name and I will make it known that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them.”
 
This week’s invitation:

Committing to a Time of Prayer

 Picking a Place of Prayer

Prepping Our Space of Prayer
Copyright © 2015 Becky Eldredge, All rights reserved.


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