Saturday, February 23, 2013

Mom, Woman of Faith: Finding Time for Prayer

I'm thrilled to be a part of a group of bloggers that are sharing their hearts about their faith and what it means to be a mom.  I hope you'll check back each Saturday for the Mom: Woman of Faith series!

Welcome back to "Mom: Woman of Faith".  Each Saturday a group of moms respond to a question essential to our lives as Christians and Mothers.  I am excited to have two new mom's contributing this week--please welcome them!  It is our hope that this series will spark reflection and growth for all those involved.  Please feel free to add your thoughts here or on facebook

This week's Question:
How to you find time in your schedule to pray?

I hesitate to respond to this question--because I fail at this so often.  As a single person I did a much better job making time for prayer.  I meet Christ in silent prayer daily, and I used my long commute to a difficult job (I taught at an inner-city school) as a time for prayer that proved very fruitful.  Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, where my schedule is governed largely by a 21 month old and a 3 month old, I really miss the consistency of prayer I had as a single person.  What's ironic is that I spent much of my time as a single person begging God for a spouse and a family--The Lord must get a kick out of us silly humans!

This Lent I have decided to focus on creating a time for prayer, and I have yet to really figure it out.  Here's what I'm trying--I have realized that the only time I can depend on having silent time alone is in the morning--the early morning.  I am working on getting up, grabbing a cup of coffee and digging into the scriptures and spiritual reflection at this time.  I also an working on adding consistent exercise to my life.  Either in the morning, or if I can get the kids to nap at the same time, I head down to the basement and jump on the treadmill.  I find that this is a great time for prayer for me.  I can't get distracted with housework and I don't need to be listening to music or watching TV.  I can talk to the Lord (sometimes out loud).  My husband and I also work to make time to pray as a family after supper and together before bed.

Finally, throughout my journey through motherhood I have worked to make my entire life a prayer.  In the silent hours at night when I am up rocking a baby, I try to mediate on a mystery of the faith.  When I am cleaning up a really poopy diaper I try to look at my child and say, "God made you, and you are good."  As a mother I have never felt closer to God...and I have never felt more distracted!  It is a wonderful, frustrating vocation! 


I used to think that my prayer time had to be first thing in the morning when the house was quiet and still – or last thing at night before I fell asleep, exhausted from a busy day.  The problem with both of those times is that as soon as I am quiet and still, more often than not, I start dozing off and find myself praying the craziest things in my half-asleep, half-awake state!!  Sad, but true!  I have found that praying while actively engaged in some type of activity works better for me.

1 Thessalonians 5:16 says simply, “Pray without ceasing.”

I think the best way to revolutionize our prayer lives as mothers is to begin our days praising God and then be in an attitude of prayer throughout the day.  Sometimes that I have found especially conducive to praying are: while walking, exercising, driving, ironing, washing dishes, nursing a baby (haven’t tried that one in about 7 years!), and my personal favorite – while in the shower! These are all excellent times to seek the Lord while our hands or bodies are busy with the task at hand.

Another excellent time to pray is while reading the Word. Find some way to pray each verse back to the Lord. This works especially well in the Psalms, where we can easily turn most verses into a praise or a supplication.

A common problem with prayer is that our minds wander. I find that short targeted prayers throughout the day make it easier to stay focused. For longer periods of time, I follow a piece of advice that was given to me years ago. I keep a notebook and pen beside me ready to write down all the things that pop into my head that I really “must do” that day! That way I won’t forget them, but I’m able to clear my mind of those distractions.

Another common problem is promising to pray for a need and feeling terrible when you forget to do so! I have two helpful remedies for that problem. First of all, pray for a need as soon as you hear about it from a friend or in an email or on Facebook. Secondly, set a reminder on your phone or add a sticky note to your computer screen to remind you to pray for the need. I recently discovered the Prayer Notebook App, which is very helpful (if you have an iPhone) for recording prayer needs as soon as you hear of them, keeping requests and answers organized, and setting reminders to pray for people or events at specific times.   
These strategies have helped me strengthen my prayer life even as the busy mom of ten!

The ugly truth is that when I try to “find” time for prayer in my days, I end up in the confessional talking about my prayer failures. The time simply will not be found and so I have a two-fold approach to daily prayer. I call it “Make It or Take It.”

Make It
In a family of 8 (with one more on the way), there’s always something demanding my attention. If I want to ensure focused time with the Lord, I have to make the time. Schedule it. For example, I have a goal of morning prayer before I leave my room. There are some days when I can more easily sit and stare at the wall for ten minutes than commit my focus to the Lord. Regardless, I make it a point to do battle with my weak will to get it done. If I must tend to something else first, I go right back. Not always a pretty picture of my soul… but it is my tiny fiat.

Take It
If I can’t make the time and am literally running from one moment to the next, I have to take those moments and use them in whatever way I can. They are all moments of grace. Just as I interact with others throughout the day, so am I called to keep close to God. Please, Lord… Thank you, Jesus… Help me, Father… Bless us… Cover us… Have mercy on us… Blessed Mother, intercede for us.  It’s about taking each moment and using it for the greater glory and love of God.

Ultimately, it’s not about whether I get to have the quiet, focused time that I prefer. It’s really about whether I have offered my will and my love in every gifted moment.

I chose to answer this question because I don't really have a good answer.   I struggle in this area.  I struggle to make time for important things.  I struggle to put down whatever it is I am doing to listen, watch and just be silent before the Lord.  I struggle because I am selfish.  A quick fix would be to stop blogging, or reading, or watching TV or doing anything that could potentially distract me from what is important.  But honestly I think getting a handle on your prayer life all boils down to one word.


Ugh.  That's the D-word at my house.  It's a bad word.  But I'm working on making it a good word.  Here are some of the steps I am taking and things I am learning.

1. I have to remember that today is always a new day.  Who cares if I've missed 5 days in a row.  That doesn't mean I give up.  I pick my Bible back up and spend time in the Word and in prayer.
2. God hears me whenever and wherever I pray.  Sometimes as I nurse the baby I pray over him.  Sometimes while we are driving in the car I thank him quietly for my blessings.  Sometimes I simply call out to him to help me through the day.  These are all ways to communicate with Him.  I don't think this means I should only pray this way but I do think these forms of prayer are legitimate and important.
3. I need accountability.  I need someone to ask me how I am doing.  My husband does this as well as a couple of good friends.  They aren't there to make me feel bad if I am struggling but there to lift me up!

Here is what I strive for in my prayer life and my devotional life.  
1. A set time each day to pray and meditate on God's word
2. A prayer journal (so I can see the prayers God has answered)
3. A desire to meet with God
Ultimately I think making time for prayer and devotion is a battle of wills.  If I truly want to find time to spend in the World I will.  My prayer is that God will continue to give me that desire!!

And now it's your turn.  Tell us your thoughts, or comment on what we've shared. 

For next week's question click here.


KC @ genxfinance said...

There is always time time to say a little prayer, any time or any where you are.. I could be even amidst a noisy crowd. You just have to close your eyes and focus.

gayle t. said...

I often just FORGET to pray. It's like I talk about God a lot, realize his presence, but I had been out of the habit of praying for so many years, I haven't quite figured out how to fix that!

Thanks for the post, came over from Thumpin Thursdays!

Gayle | Grace for Gayle

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