I have been praying an hour a day since Lent began and am noticing some shifts in me. Here they are after two and a half weeks:
First, a growing ability to focus. When I first started praying an hour a day my attention wandered every where. Now I am getting more adept at letting go of distractions and really entering into a time with God. I spend 20 minutes of the hour in centering prayer which is a practice of sitting quietly before God and listening. Initially, I was opening my eyes and peeking at my watch nearly every five minutes. Three days ago I was so into praying that the first time I peeked I was at my 20 minute mark! Yeah God! Thanks for bringing me some peace.
Second, night restlessness is leaving me. I have perennially been unable able to relax at the end of the day. I lay down am restless. I used to have a car that would run on after I turned the engine off. It would make this sick shuddering effort to resist turning off. That’s what I feel like at the end of the day, typically. I shudder on by reading, mindlessly channel surfing, or roaming the house trying to find something to do. Prayer has been the tune-up that is alleviating my run-on engine problem. I now come to the end of the day and am ready to go to sleep. It’s not that I am more tired. Frankly, I am typically tired. I just don’t have layered on the fatigue the same stress causing restlessness. An hour of prayer a day is slowly bring peace into my life and freeing me to sleep.
Third, praying more outside of my hour. I do my hour in thirty minute blocks, but now I pray more frequently in my daily activity. I pray when I am walking around, doing chores, driving my car, or some other task that doesn’t require much mental attention. I have always done some of that on the fly praying, but I have really noticed an increase.
Fourth, an expanding prayer vocabulary and concern. During times of free prayer I use to sometimes feel at a loss for words. Sort of an, “Okay, now what?” feeling. More and more situations I can pray about seem to present or presence themselves.
Fifth, a growing desire for and love of prayer. I have to admit that when I began praying for an hour it felt like an insurmountable discipline to maintain daily. Now though I am looking forward to it and find that I am periodically running over. The other day I lost track of time in my 25-30 minute morning prayer routine and wound up praying for 40 minutes. Furthermore, I really missed my discipline when I didn’t do it this past Sunday. In case, you are unaware, the 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays. Consequently, I fore go my discipline on Sunday.
Hope you will give praying an hour a day a try.
Peace from The Practical Disciple, John