For me, prayer is often pretty easy. At some points, my prayer is like the short, quick text messages exchanged between friends or loved ones throughout the day, sharing funny or annoying moments of every day life in quick bursts. At other times, prayer is more like the deep, rich conversations shared while lingering over cups of coffee or glasses of wine, sometimes stretching long into the night, but leaving me feeling deeply satisfied and fulfilled.
But then there are the times when its not.
There are those times when prayer is just difficult. In my relationship with God, like my relationships with friends, I sometimes have times where I am so busy or preoccupied with other things that I just fail to communicate. There are also the times when my relationship with Jesus hits a rough patch: we're fighting, we're struggling to connect, or we're not hearing each other (Ok. I'm not hearing. Even when I feel like I'm not being heard, God always listens.) Honestly, sometimes I just get bored. For those moments when prayer is boring, hard or just seems pointless, here's five ways I've found to connect (or reconnect) with God. -- Amy
1. Take a Hike.
Or go for a walk or run. Talk to God about what you see. You might thank God for the beauty of nature, or ask God's blessing on the people, places, or situations you encounter. (If you're a social media user, you can search #whereIpray to see others have spent time with God. If you're on Twitter or Instagram, tag @sthelenparish and we'll share your prayer places.)
2. Draw it out.
When words alone fail or you're struggling to stay focused, try doodling. It's not about being a great artist, it's about giving your hands something to do while your head and heart communicate with God. Doodle prayer can be as simple as picking up a pen and drawing squiggles on a sheet of paper. If you're looking for more, check out Praying in Color. (Full disclosure: Art is a regular part of my prayer, even when I'm not stuck.)
3. Use the S Word.
No, not that S word! Scripture! For many people, Scripture is a regular part of prayer. If it's not your go-to, it's a great way to get unstuck. I've found that the Gospel of John is most helpful for me when I need to reconnect with Jesus. If you don't know where to start, try the Gospel for the day or the upcoming Sunday. You can find the readings on the USCCB website.
4. Find your jam.
Music has a way of communicating ideas and emotions that we otherwise struggle to articulate. Try listening to music as a way of prayer. What message are you trying to express to God? What is God trying to say to you? Find your dance-in-the-kitchen-with-the-Holy-Spirit song. While sacred and contemporary Christian music might seem like the most logical, God can speak to our hearts through other music, too. This Pete Townshend song captured what Jesus had been trying to communicate with me during a particularly difficult time in my faith journey.
5. Be still.
I think we sometimes put too much emphasis on prayer being about words. I need to remember that it is more about being present to God and aware of God's presence in my life. If you're struggling to connect, just be with God. You might consider making a "little visit" to spend time with Jesus in front of the tabernacle. Sometimes I just sit at home with a cup of coffee, mindful of God's presence. (I admit, sometimes I do this in the dark or with my eyes closed, so I don't see things I feel like I should be doing!) You don't have to do or say or think anything. Just be still and let God's love and grace surround you.
How do you kick start your prayer life when it stalls out?
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