Alternate title to this post is: The Steal, Sneak around, and Hunker Down Prayer Hack Method for Moms.
Sheila posted a fantastic entry and asked some salient questions regarding prayer. And it’s just the perfect timing, since I have been thinking about this subject for quite some time, and also since I had writer’s block until she posted on Tuesday!
Getting a regular prayer time in is indeed a challenge. We all know what’s individually keeping us from prayer, whether it’s illness, tiredness, interruptions, or lack of scheduling prowess. Over the last 18 months or so, I’ve been almost constantly trying to get back to the one and only routine that has ever worked for me: wake up x number of minutes earlier than normal, use that amount of time to make coffee and pray, and then continue as normal with the day’s schedule, whatever that may be.
It worked for the 2 months preceding our wedding when I was living with my parents and had a new job. In this case, x=10 minutes. I thought to myself, “I must pray. There’s no valid excuse not to pray. Surely, I can wake up 10 minutes earlier than normal, every day. 10 minutes will not kill me.” I had this great, huge bookcase in my room along with a camping chair. Everything to make coffee (except the water) was within 2 feet of the chair. I would turn off my alarm, immediately grab the coffee pot, fill it across the hall, then go straight back to my room. The rest of the 10 minutes was spent in the chair: grind coffee, pull out the coffee maker tray, place on floor, brew coffee, read the bible and/or pray, place tray back on bookcase, stand up, shower, go to work.
Honeymoon, bedrest, seasonal illnesses, post partem mayhem, another pregnancy, more seasonal illnesses, post partem mayhem again, family illnesses, etc, all naturally got in the way of this routine. I was able to get back to it for several weeks when our daughter was about 11 months old. It looked a little different, but it always included calculating how many minutes I could spare from sleep, when I thought the kid(s) would wake up, counting back from there, making coffee, sitting down somewhere, and trying to imagine Jesus in the chair across from me. And in the 2 years since then I have had 1-3 periods where this routine worked (it’s hard to remember exactly!). Now that our youngest is weaned and sleeping somewhat predictably, the routine has been about 90% effective for about 9 months.
Here’s how I do it, and it’s super fun and ninja-like. Or Robin Hood like. Choose your favorite hero, and adapt for yourself! Just remember, “steal, sneak around, hunker down.”
- Steal (from the rich): my kids have more bibles than they need. I have less bible knowledge than I need. Therefore, I have stolen my kid’s “Jesus Storybook Bible”, commandeering it for my own prayer and education. I hope someday soon to graduate to a big kid (adult) bible. I have no shame or guilt. It’s like Robin Hood, all the way, baby. The point, though, is that whether I am a criminal or not, I need a highly accessible, easy to follow method for prayer. Last summer, reading a Psalm per day was ideal to keep me focused and to keep me from analysis paralysis: if I don’t know how to do it, I don’t do it at all.
- Sneak around: key to getting a prayer time in, for me, is that my kids not suspect that I am awake and available. This means that I’ve set my alarm volume as low as possible, and that I sneak downstairs like some teenager trying to get out of the house with out their parents knowing – except in my case, it’s for a righteous cause! In a creaky old house like ours, it’s imperative to master the terrain. The wonderful side benefit is that, if our teenagers ever do try to sneak out of the house, we will know all their tricks, because we’ve done them ourselves! (By the way, I want to simply spell out that this covert action is highly contingent, for me, on a) being willing to wake an hour before my kids normally do, b) being faithful to going to bed on time, c) heeding my alarm when it rings, and d) assuring myself that I am not a failing parent if my kids wake and play, even for several minutes, alone in their room before I am finished with my prayer time.)
- Hunker down: The best ninjas know how to hide. I’ve found that even if I can procure the goods (a bible and coffee), and successfully sneak past my slumbering honeys, prayer only happens if I hunker down. This is quite literal. If I can see anything out of the windows other than the tops of trees, I can’t focus on God my
Father, who is right next to me. Sitting on the floor is best, but our low papasan chair works okay too, when my back is sore. One of those beach chairs (the kind that is about 4 inches off the ground) would be ideal with some lumbar support. I have to get pretty low in order to keep my eye from wandering. It’s also helpful, I’ve found, to pray in our porch and not in our living room. The living room is just so distracting, between all the little things that need to be picked up, all the possibilities for furniture arrangements, and all the many conversations – begging to be thought over – that happen there!
Here we see just how seriously I take the sneaking and hunkering. On a recent weekend away with my husband, I stuck to the routine as much as possible: sitting in a fantastic window seat and drawing the curtain. The outdoors was a little distracting, but also helped praise of our Father well up in me as I beheld the beauty he had created.
Hope you all enjoy ninja prayer as much as I do!
Miss Mary Clare