Friday, September 28, 2007

How to Pray When Busy

The last couple of days have been crazy. I'm self-employed, and there are times when work's calls become scary.

But everyone -- self-employed, employed, or whatever -- have busy days. The reality is that we are still commanded to "pray without ceasing." Even on busy days.

Praying is not just about requests. Prayer is also about praising God, receiving gifts from God, and acknowledging His goodness. If we have a fully-orbed prayer life, our prayers will contain all of these things. Some suggestions for busy times:

1. Make use of the Jesus prayer. Simple to learn, and deceptively easy, but there is depth in this prayer for a lifetime of praying. The words: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." Some have phrased it as "have mercy on me, the sinner," but the difference there is probably not important, at least not now. Even simpler versions are something like "Lord, have mercy." Can this prayer become a routine? Sure it can. Just like telling your husband or wife that you love them. The secret to making use of the Jesus prayer is to ponder each word, each phrase, to remember our sins, and to remember our Savior's mercy. There will be times in your life when -- through grief, through fear, through sorrow, through whatever -- other prayers will be difficult. This prayer can carry you through. I encourage anyone to learn it, and grow into the wonders of this prayer.

2. Ponder some of the biblical prayers with similar phrasing. These are some examples: Matthew 9.27, 15.22, 17.15, 20.30, or Luke 18.39.

3. Know the creeds. Most people who are in a liturgical church know the apostles creed and the Nicene creed by heart, but if you don't, make a point of learning them, and pondering them. The point is not to repeat like a parrot, but to literally know "by heart," to know the creed that you may ponder and meditate on them. When driving, when doing paperwork, when walking: ponder the creeds, and the great deeds of your God.

4. Another project we might consider for the future: learning the Athanasian creed by heart. Most of us hear this once a year, on Trinity Sunday, but the creed is not that hard to learn, and knowing it by heart enables us to ponder the mysteries of the incarnation when we wish.

5. Have a copy of the catechism with you. (I mean the bare bones of the catechism, the pamphlet edition). Use it when you have a few minutes free. Even better, know the catechism by heart.

6. Carry a New Testament with you. Having a 10 minute wait gives you time to read a chapter or 2.

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