I have the best intentions of spending time in silence and solitude with God each day.
In my mind, I wake up with the sun each morning, fully refreshed, and slip out of bed to pour myself a cup of coffee. I sip it slowly in gratitude as I sit on my patio, savoring the moment as the birds chirp their chorus and the wind gently rustles through the leaves of the trees that form the canopy above me.
Certain that I have taken it all in, I open my reading, starting the day inspired. Sometimes it’s scripture or a book about spiritual practices. At other times it’s simply a text that explores a topic that I’m passionate about. Every time, though, it is something that brings me closer to God.
After a chapter or two, I set my reading aside and pick up my journal, putting onto paper what was stirring in my heart. Then, I finish my time in prayer. Sometimes I express my desires in words, as I learned as a young child. At other times, I simply sit in the presence of God, knowing that the silence is enough.
This summer, this daily practice has happened around… a few times. I try to maintain elements of this practice on a regular basis, but the surprises of everyday life often leave it fragmented, at best.
Waking up with the sun is the first to go. Sometimes I drink my coffee intermittently in the bathroom as I fix my hair instead of drinking it while peacefully surrounded by my garden. And the reading, journaling, and time spent in prayer? They’re quickly replaced by an early departure for a long day working or running errands. I don’t have any children yet, but I imagine the interruptions are just as often and far less predictable.
As much as we might love routine, a morning of uninterrupted bliss where we can set time aside for our relationship with God can be hard to come by. As for afternoons and evenings? Afternoons are usually filled with the next “to-do,” and by the time evening comes, weariness often takes over. With one day like this after another, it can seem nearly impossible to find the solitary time with God that you crave.
What if I told you, then, that there are ways to encounter God that are hidden in your everyday life, even within the very tasks that fill your days?
In monastic communities, monks and nuns commonly adhere to a practice called the “Liturgy of the Hours.” For centuries, members of these communities have gathered multiple times each day, pausing when the bells toll and turning toward God in a spirit of prayer.
Though the peace of a monastery might seem the furthest thing from your busy schedule, translating this practice to your everyday life can offer you invitations to encounter God throughout the day in places you might never expect.
Here are five seemingly-stressful everyday circumstances that can instead be turned into times of prayer:
1. Laundry day?
As you sort the dirty clothes from the previous week, call to mind your recent places of struggle and desolation. After they are clean and you begin to put them away, reflect on the week ahead, praying that you’ll experience God’s presence and grow more fully into your True Self.
2. Stuck in traffic on your daily commute?
Turn off the radio and practice quieting your mind and simply sitting in God’s presence.
3. Time to cook dinner?
Join the rhythm of your chopping or stirring with the silent repetition of a verse or a prayer of old, such as “Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10) or the Lord’s Prayer. (Read my own reflections on this here.)
4. Dishes piled up in the sink?
As you wash the dishes, bring to God the places where you need forgiveness and desire to be washed clean, allowing the suds and warm water to bring you (and your kitchen sink) new life.
5. Have so much on your mind that you can’t go to sleep?
Instead of counting sheep, name the things you are grateful for as you drift off into a (much more) peaceful slumber.
What seemingly-stressful everyday circumstance in your life can you turn into a time of prayer? Leave your response to the question or the post in the comments.