As a minister, I imagine that I experience more quiet moments than most. It is a part of my vocation, of course, to study, reflect, and pray. Such thought, however, is not escapist. Neither is it intended merely for my own edification. Instead, any insights gained, wisdom won, or knowledge received is often recorded and shared with the congregation in the form of an Evotional or sermon, in order that the whole body may be strengthened.
Creating and maintaining intentional spiritual practices is not easy. Take prayer, for example. For many of us, it is difficult to follow through on the desire to pray for twenty minutes each day. We know that our minds are prone to wander. Our prayer lives are no different. Yet, many of us quickly become disappointed or feel ashamed for “failing” in our efforts to effectively pray.
As an alternative, try to change the focus of your daily reflections from praying to the recording of several key thoughts that have the potential to guide your way. This simple shift in practice will likely provide needed structure to your thinking and leave you feeling as if your time with God has been more productive. Just choose a concept… love, peace, hope, or justice, for example, and start writing. You will instinctively pause, reflect, and pray and you seek to communicate your thoughts in whatever style works for you (i.e. bullet points, sentences, or paragraphs).
Understandably, “pray for twenty minutes” is too abstract for many Christians to add to their “to do” lists. As a result, we skip it entirely. Yet, it’s much easier to affirm that we have accomplished this task: “write three sentences about my faith today.” Sometimes, this spiritual exercise will require hardly any time at all. Other times, it will stretch our thinking and take us to unexpected places. Most importantly, remember that there are no right or wrong answers, and that there are no disappointments.