A few weeks ago Unity held its World Day of Prayer, and our Unity community in Evanston hosted a 24-hour-prayer-vigil. Volunteers signed up for one-hour time slots during which they would sit in the building and hold the prayer vigil. It’s been several years and a couple of kids since I last participated in a World Day of Prayer vigil, but something moved me to volunteer this year.
Wow! All I can say is that I felt tremendous energy and power in taking one hour out of my day to sit in silent prayer. Although I enjoy short meditations, I’ve always had difficulty holding my focus for very long periods. In my previous non-mommy life the prospect of holding prayer for an entire hour was daunting. This time I found myself looking forward to the experience. Sixty minutes to just sit and be quiet without children hounding me? Yes, please!
So what exactly does one do during sixty minutes of prayer? Well, I started by centering myself. I listened to music, settled into my chair, and just focused on my breath. Next, I spent a full thirty minutes reading the prayer requests. Prior to the vigil people were invited to write down the names of the people they wanted to hold in prayer. I read each and every name out loud, giving my loving energy to the individuals listed. Many of the names were people within our spiritual community with whom I was familiar. Several names, particularly those who I knew to be facing health challenges, were mentioned on several different lists. I even saw the names of my own family members. It was humbling and heart-warming to see our community so intricately woven together, supporting and uplifting one another.
I finished the hour by simply sitting in quiet contemplation. I admit that my mind did wander a bit. But it wandered to wonderful areas. Something about spending 30 minutes praying for others and sending them healing energy shifted my frame of reference. I had no desire to dwell in the worry or guilt that so often occupies my mommy-mind. Instead I thought about the blessings my children have brought to me – and the blessings that I have brought to them. I felt immense gratitude for my family’s health and happiness and for our connection to a group of spiritually like-minded people.
How different might every day be if I made time for an hour of prayer? How much more centered might I become? How much more peaceful would I be in my daily interactions? How much more securely would I know that Divine Order was at work in my life? As parents we have LOTS of responsibilities – paying the bills, buying the groceries, making sure everyone is showered and dressed, etc, etc, etc. And we manage to eke out a moment of self-care here or there – a weekly book group, the occasional bubble bath, a birthday massage, a date night. Although we live in a universe of unlimited potential, we do have to deal with a limited number of hours in every day. Spending one hour in prayer means one hour less on something else. What do we give-up in an already chock-full schedule? Sleeping? Eating? Relaxing? Playing? It’s possible to shift priorities around to allow for a daily prayer hour. But if that’s a struggle, then there are some more realistic prayer practices that can be incorporated a bit more easily into your schedule:
Say a prayer before meals. But make sure you’re actually praying and not just reciting.
Keep a prayer journal next to your bed. Every night take just a minute or two to jot down any special prayer request for yourself or others. Also write down a note of gratitude for any answered prayers.
I said it last time and I’ll say it again: go to church! Your kids will be happily occupied in a Sunday School or Soul School program while you have a full hour to simply sit and be and absorb spiritual food.
Play a recorded meditation as you fall asleep each night. You’ll nod off quickly, sleep more deeply, and fit in a few minutes of meditation each and every day without having to add anything at all to your schedule.
Remember that it’s almost always the thing that you think you absolutely, positively can NOT fit into your schedule, that you absolutely, positively need the most.