Now and then, or perhaps a bit more often, I feel as though I might explode from the sheer quantity of thoughts running through my mind. Clearly, this overwhelming deluge of thoughts is an obstacle to being in the moment. There are times where this is particularly troublesome, where real focus is required and I want to be totally present and engaged. One of the most poignant of these is time in prayer and with God in general. It’s very easy to be distracted and haphazard in one’s prayer life but God requires our full attention.
Something strange happens to me from time to time. I wake up fully in the middle of the night and have this undeniable sense of clarity and peace and contentment. My thoughts are organized and coherent. I want to be able to bottle this ability and utilize it during the day as I go about my life. Where does it come from and how do I obtain it? Is it something I can will or recreate on my own?
The answer is yes. Elusive as it may be, clarity isn’t something peculiar to the still of the night. It may be easier to find there where distractions are at a minimum and nothing is particularly urgent aside from the call of sleep. In fact, we fashion this environment each night as we go to bed and fall asleep. Perhaps you have a particular routine that allows you to fall asleep. Over the years, I’ve had various and sundry techniques but they all have the common goal of quieting my mind and allowing slumber to take hold. This goal of a quiet mind is very much what we seek in prayer time as well.
So let’s work through a few ways to cultivate this sense of peace for prayer. Much of this hinges on lifting our physical bodies with all of our senses to the divine, to unite our soul and body in our quest for intimacy with God Himself. Remember that you can pray wherever you are and that the ideal is to both set aside specific time for God in prayer as well as to live your life as a prayer, a continual communication with God throughout the day.
- Assume a prayerful posture. Kneel. Fold your hands or outstretch your arms. Bow your head or lift your gaze skyward. Arrange your body in such a way that your intent to pray is clear.
- Silence outside noise. This can be done in two main ways, limiting exterior noises or creating a prayerful atmosphere sound wise. One can seek out silence and quiet or fill the soundscape with music that lifts your soul heavenward. Sacred music can be a beautiful and effective tool for prayer.
- Direct your attention. There are many ways of achieving this. One particularly effective way is through reading either the Bible or some other religious work. Another means is seeking out a space that reminds you of God, be that the interior of a church or outdoors in the beauty of creation.
I will leave you with my own reflection to aid in your quest to cultivate an attitude of living in the moment which is the key to effective prayer: I’ve only been given this particular moment and should live it to its fullest, to its greatest potential. So I’m making a resolution: to live in the moment, completely present and engaged. I vow to soak in my surroundings: to take note of the colors and sights and sounds and tastes and textures. I promise to listen, to wait, to rest, to accept silence, to unplug. I strive to love more deeply and live out my calling in joy. I seek to see each moment for the gift it is and to give it back to God, to live it out to His greater glory.