There is nothing more important in life than your relationship with God. Everything else follows from how you communicate with God and how that relationship informs your actions.
So why do so many of us only talk to God in quick mealtime prayers and maybe the occasional prayer when we’re worried or stressed? Or we have routine prayer time, but it is unfulfilling and rote?
Like any relationship, your relationship with God requires work. It’s something that cannot be taken for granted or treated as an afterthought. A big part of that is finding the time to talk to God in prayer on a daily basis. We’re going to go over how to find that time and make the most of it.
One important element to remember when you set aside time to pray is that this should be focused, intentional prayer. What does this mean? It means you are actively engaged and thinking about what you’re praying for, attentive to how your heart feels and seeking His guidance while you pray.
Many of us fall into comfortable "prayer lists.” We have our standard opener, a list of people and things we want to pray about, and (if we’re being truthful) we can sometimes fall into the habit of reciting them like we were reading from a script. There is nothing wrong with bringing the same issues to the Lord or having a number of people that you routinely pray for, what makes a difference is how you think about it and how you express these concerns to the Lord.
Imagine if you received regular calls from a loved one who lived very far away. But every single call, they just mumbled the same general speech to you - they went over the same issues, and gave you the exact same perfunctory hello and goodbye, and didn’t seem particularly interested in what they were saying. Would you feel like you were being valued by that relative? Not likely.
Prayer should be treated the same way. You don’t want to feel like you’re just performing a routine or praying for the sake of it. You should be intentional and respectful when communicating with the Lord.
Part of finding more time to talk to God is realizing that a single session of even five or ten minutes of quality communication a day will do your spirit more good than a bunch of longwinded recitations or mumbled graces over every meal. It isn’t about carving an hour out of each day to pray for the sake of praying, but about intention and making the most out of the time you do spend praying.
If you want to get in better shape, you need to set aside time to exercise. If you want to learn a new skill or instrument, you need to practice it regularly. Ideally you want to exercise or practice the same time everyday so you can build a routine around it. It’s the same thing with finding more time to talk to God, you need to focus in on what is important and make it a regular part of your day.
Dedicate a specific time to talk with God each day. Maybe in the morning as soon as you get up. Spend the first 10, 20, or 30 minutes of the day talking with the Lord before you do anything else. Use it as a way to focus on what is important and what you should be concentrating on throughout the day.
Or maybe mornings are always crazy around your house, and you know you’ll never get the undisturbed private time you need with the kids scrambling for breakfast and fighting over the washroom. That’s fine, make your daily communication with God part of your late-night routine before you go to bed. A chance to reflect on the day and seek guidance for tomorrow.
And if late-night is no good for you, find some other time! Use part of your lunch break for prayer. Instead of watching some rerun when you get home from work, take that time for the Lord. What matters isn’t the specific time you use, but that you have a time and keep it consistent.
As you keep up this new schedule, you’re going to be tested. There will be days when you’re super busy and miss your time, unusual appointments or events that throw you off your schedule, or times when you’re just too beat to find the spirit and focus needed to talk with God and you’re going to slip. That’s okay, that is bound to happen.
Don’t become disheartened. Don’t allow a slip to become a tumble because you feel demoralized. The best thing you can do after missing a day is to get right back to it the next.
If you stick with it, even with the occasional slip up, you’ll find it becomes easier and easier. Taking the time to talk to God will be more unconscious, more natural, and easier to fit into your day. Even on the days when your schedule is thrown into chaos, you’ll be able to find the time and the desire to talk to God.
It’s all about forming a habit of dedicated and passionate prayer. After enough time, it will no longer be a question of figuring out how to find the time, but a matter of how weird it would feel to miss it. That’s the kind of connection we should be trying to foster with God in our lives.
Finding more time to talk with God doesn’t have to be complicated. Be attentive and engaged when you pray. Find a time that works for your life when you can give prayer your full attention. Stick with it every day until it becomes as natural as making your morning coffee. Keep it up, and you’ll form a stronger, deeper relationship with the Lord.