January 6, 2023
Your daily prayer routine is a critical step for growing in holiness, and saints throughout the centuries have been known to spend hours in prayer each day.
But, even if you love your prayer time, it can be difficult to get going.
Part of the challenge is finding a quiet time and place to pray, and sometimes the challenge is exacerbated because our “quiet place” is not a “prayerful place.” Additionally, we have to make sure we get our mindset right before diving into deep, prayerful communion with Our Lord.
Luckily, by adjusting your physical surroundings and calming your mind and soul, you can transform your daily prayer from a distraction-rife time that you keep procrastinating on, into a truly enriching experience that you’ll soon be eagerly anticipating each day.
Read on to discover time-proven methods to foster a deeper prayer life!
1. Choose a peaceful location.
Like with buying a house, it’s all about location, location, location! To truly enter into deep, meditative prayer, you’ll want to pick a peaceful, distraction-free spot. This could be a room in your home, a quiet area in your yard, or a chapel or church. The important thing is that you find a place where you feel comfortable and can focus on your prayer.
2. Set up with appropriate lighting and scent.
Once you have chosen your location, you can set the mood by adding some soft lighting and an appropriate scent. Candles create a peaceful atmosphere by adding pleasant scents to the room, and when lit they provide satisfying soft light that helps you to get into a prayerful frame of mind.
3. Give yourself time to shift into “prayer mode”
It takes your mind and body a bit of time to adjust to different activities, and prayer is no exception. If you’ve ever tried to go right from an intense work or social situation directly into deep prayer with zero transition time, you’ve probably found it difficult to focus on talking with God because your mind is still abuzz. So, it’s important to plan a few quiet minutes before jumping into prayer.
If you’re driving to the chapel, try turning off the radio during the commute. Even better, use that time to review your prayer intentions and determine what you’ll be talking with God about today.
4. Make sure you are comfortable.
This step is all about finding balance. Excessive discomfort might lead to distraction, but excessive comfort is a recipe for dozing off mid-prayer.
This step will look different for different people, but generally sitting in a chair with your back straight and shoulders back is perfect for warding off sleepiness while maintaining an appropriate level of comfort.
5. Focus on the love and presence of Our Lord
Have you ever tried to “clear your mind” before prayer, only to find yourself even more distracted than before? That’s because your mind doesn’t like having nothing to process, and so it starts reaching for other thoughts to fill the void. This is a good sign, as it means your brain is working the way it’s supposed to…but it can make it difficult to focus on prayer.
That’s why, rather than trying to “let your mind go blank” or “suppress your thoughts,” it’s more beneficial to find something good and holy to focus your thoughts on. Meditating on the love and presence of Our Lord is a beautiful way to accomplish this step; not only does it quiet your mind, it provides a smooth transition to your actual prayer time. As you begin to pray, take a few moments to picture Jesus Christ with you in that space. Picture Him holding you in His loving embrace as you feel His peace and love surround you.
6. Begin your prayer.
After you have taken some time to focus, you can begin your prayer. You may want to start with traditional prayers, spiritual reading, or simply make your own thoughts and desires known to God. The important thing is to be honest and open with God, whether you are using words or not. Remember, He knows your heart better than you do, and He desires to commune with you in prayer.
Take some time to listen to what God has to say to you as well. Even if He doesn’t reply with actual words spoken directly to your heart, be assured that He sees you and hears your prayers, and will organize all things for your growth in holiness as long as you trust in Him.
Most importantly, don’t get discouraged! Be patient with yourself; if your mind wanders, simply bring your focus back to Jesus and continue praying from the heart. Even better, talk to Him about the things that are distracting you, inviting Him to heal your worries and anxieties.
These six techniques are concrete guidelines to develop a physical and spiritual prayerful atmosphere. Pick one or two of these that work best for you and commit to doing them daily. You will be amazed at how much closer you feel to Our Lord, and the peace that comes from speaking with Him in this intimate way.
Prayer is a powerful tool at our disposal, especially when practiced every day. If you are determined to pray each day, using a proven method to draw closer to Our Lord, you’ll soon find yourself unable to live without those precious moments spent with Him in prayer.