First off, for the purposes of my prayer practice and blogging, I don’t count a day as ending until I go to sleep. So even though I’m writing this at one-thirty in the morning, I’m still on track. So there!
I also wanted to share some thoughts on the fact that my daily prayer minimum for this challenge is fifteen minutes. In the official school of Centering Prayer, the recommendation is to spend at least twenty minutes to half an hour in prayer at a time. Sister Shirley, who first taught me about Centering prayer, referred to one twenty to thirty-minute prayer session as “the maintenance dose.” If you want to experience real spiritual healing, she said, you should aim for a consistent practice of twenty to thirty minutes twice a day.
Now, I don’t think there’s anything particularly magical about the numbers here. However, in my experience, it is true that the longer you spend in meditation or prayer, the easier it usually becomes (not always, but usually). Time is needed for your brain to truly shed the worries and thought loops it’s accumulated throughout the day. The longer you spend in silence, the more accustomed you become to the silence, and the more open you become to the Presence in the silence.
That being said, if I have to choose between praying for the perfect amount of time or not praying at all, I know what I should pick. Fifteen minutes is a good length of time for me because that’s how long my breaks at work are, so on really hectic days, that’s one of the few blocks of time I know I’ll have free. God knows our limitations and our weaknesses and can do more with them than we can possibly imagine. It’s always better to take one step in the right direction than shrink back for fear of not being able to go far enough.
I pray all the time for God to help me love prayer more and more. Hopefully, there will come a day when prayer will actually crowd out my other activities. For now, I am taking baby steps because I need to discipline myself into having a practice that lasts for any length of time. I need to just practice showing up and knowing that God was already there all along.
Today’s 15 minutes of prayer: At work again. Things are kind of deserted on Saturday so privacy was easy. My own thoughts crowded the whole room, though. But evaluation isn’t useful, is it? This is not about whether I feel super spiritually effective and holy. This is a tiny exercise in faithfulness, and ultimately, grace.