From God's fullness we have all received, grace upon grace
“Forming habits of prayer”

“Forming habits of prayer”

In December’s monthly news, I asked whether we can find 20 or even 5 minutes to wait on God, given that God is patiently and longingly waiting on us for 1,440 minutes every day. It might seem difficult or impossible to find time when we have a lot of other commitments during the day, but if our relationship with God in prayer is really a priority then might it be possible to make time?

Or is it like many other good things in life? We want to do them, but we do other things instead because we experience some sort of internal resistance. I know I feel both relaxed and energised after a walk in nature, yet sometimes it’s hard to motivate myself to get out of the house. It’s sometimes a little like Paul’s words in Romans 7.17: “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.”

The key for me is not to think about it, but to form a habit instead. So on a day when I am working at home, however I am feeling and whatever the weather, when the clock ticks to 3pm I simply get up and get out. With prayer, it is first thing in the morning. Over a cup of tea, I read or listen to a spiritual podcast until something strikes me and leads me into a time of silent prayer. The cup of tea is my bridge between waking up and my prayer time. The routine holds my prayer. It’s a habit I’ve formed and now I just do it.

Different routines and bridges will work for different people. Maybe praying after a morning tea or coffee will also work for you, or maybe you could pray after taking the dog out, or on your lunch break, say. Or it might be easier to make it weekly instead of daily, and to block out a longer period on one evening a week.

Two final things. Note the difference in focus between praying while you are walking the dog, and walking the dog while you are praying. The first is good and fine. The second is a distraction. But you could use the routine of your return home, towelling down the dog, putting the lead away and hanging up your coat as a bridge to sitting down and focusing on your relationship with God. And lastly, it is much much better to start small and build up, rather than be too ambitious and give up. So for your New Year Resolution… 5 minutes and an intention to build up to 20?


This is one of a series of articles appearing in Exeter Cathedral’s monthly news, complementing the material I contributed to the “Explore Prayer” section of the Cathedral website. I hope you find them helpful.