Posts in Bible
You Need Alone Time

In this episode of Praying Well, I talk about the serious need that each of us has for alone time. Call it thinking time, time with God, or interior time- breaking from the everyday pace of life has never been more important.

The Why of Alone Time

Rather than filling all of your time with others or with the noise of technology, each of us needs alone time. Here are just a few of the “why’s” behind alone time:

  • Because our world is increasingly noisy due to social media and technology

  • Because solitude is elusive, scary and looked down upon (i.e. it’s not seen as “fun”)

  • Because Jesus himself took time alone to pray (see Mark 1:35)

The When of Alone Time

If you’re not sure when you can actually get some alone time, try the following:

  • Early in the morning

  • During your commute to work

  • When you are running errands

  • Late at night

  • When you are working out

  • When you are outside in nature

I know, some of you may be saying, “Mike, you don’t understand. My days start early and end late. There is literally no down time!” This is a lie we often tell ourselves. You have 15 minutes that you can carve out for God. I do too.

Is Alone Time Prayer Time?

This is an important question. Just spending time in solitude is not necessarily prayer time. For example, you could be out and about, running errands and listening to sports talk radio all the while. That’s time by yourself but probably wouldn’t constitute true alone time. 

Rather, quality alone time with God integrates prayer with time. For example, you need to weed your garden and you say a prayer at the start of it, thanking God for nature and the beauty of the outdoors. Then, while you are working, you are thinking of spiritual things and talking to God. This might be out loud on interiorly. The key is that you’ve “located” your time within God’s providence. It’s His time. You are participating in it. A quiet atmosphere helps. Things don’t have to be totally quiet but less noise is always a good thing.

Following Up

You’ve read this post and you’re already thinking of the busy details of your day. Still, you want to incorporate more alone time in your schedule. What to do? I suggest scheduling your alone time with God right now. Is there a 15 minute block that you can pencil in and just “be” with God? Even a small window of time can be helpful.

Worried About a Boring Sermon or Homily?

Bad preaching is a real problem in the Christian church. Without understating the difficulty of delivering a message to a diverse audience, preaching is hard. Imagine giving a talk to both young children and senior citizens… at the same time. Not easy.

With that said, here’s a trick that I’ve learned when it comes to matching your prayer life with the routine of listening to a homily. During your morning prayer time, go over the readings of the day (for Catholics, this refers to the Bible readings that will be featured in the daily Mass). Read these slowly and let God show you what stands out. Then, imagine yourself delivering the homily or sermon. Imagine nodding heads as they listen to you and make meaning for themselves out of the readings.

I’ve used this technique for years, not because I see myself as a better preacher than the priests in my parish. Rather, envisioning a homily coming out of my mouth makes the readings come alive. New ideas form. Insights emerge. I see myself communicating God’s word to others.

 
 
How the Bible Can Anchor Your Prayer Life
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This post is not to try and convince you that the Bible is important. You and I already know that. Rather, I’ll try to remind us of its gentle power within our daily prayer lives.

As a Catholic, I am often surrounded by other believers who don’t actually read their Bibles on a regular basis. This sounds judgy, I know. Still, I know enough Catholics for enough time to acknowledge an ugly truth- most don’t read their Bibles. Many are still strong disciples of Christ but simply haven’t made Scripture a core component of their daily lives.

While this genuinely makes me sad, the reasons are similar to why most Christians (writ-large) don’t have a daily prayer time:

No one ever taught us how to do it, resulting in…

  • a lack of confidence to try…

  • and a sense of private shame that we don’t read our Bibles more often.

Like saving for retirement or personal finances, Bible reading can fall into the same murky category of our lives. I’d like to challenge that and invite each of us to begin anew.

Scripture helps diminish the distance between God and us because we can become part of the story.
— Dr. Robert Wicks

The Bible, as the sacred text of all Christians, is like an anchor of our faith. It provides a rudder to help us navigate life’s challenges. It informs our decisions and reminds us that we are loved. As Dr. Robert Wicks said in Everyday Simplicity, “Scripture helps diminish the distance between God and us because we can become part of the story.”

This story is one of God loving all people to the point of sending his very son, Jesus. As Christopher West says, the entirety of salvation history is summed up this way, “God wants to marry us.” The Bible not only reminds us of this truth but gives a backstage pass to God’s plan to woo us and be in relationship with us.

Ok I’m convinced! The Bible is important. You probably feel the same way.

But, as is always the $5M question, how do I get familiar with my Bible and then incorporate it into my daily prayer life? Here are some very simple things that you can do to get familiar (again) with your Bible:

  1. Find your Bible and spend two minutes with it. Don’t have one? Go over to Amazon and buy one. Find one that you enjoy holding- not too big, not too small, etc.

  2. Choose to read either the daily Mass readings or start with one particular book. Catholics are familiar with a liturgical calendar and if you read the daily readings, you’ll cover the entire Bible in about three years.

  3. Make a decision that you’ll read your Bible every day. Just choose a small section, a paragraph or two and make progress that way.

  4. Use a technique called Lectio Divina. For a primer, check this out.

  5. Over time, let your daily Bible reading become a spiritual anchor for your day. You’ll eventually feel as if something is missing if you go a day without reading your Bible- that’s the goal!

Eventually, you’ll find that your daily Bible reading will become a reference point. It will stay with you during the day and then, when you least expect it, the Lord will pull it out of you, holding up a key idea or phrase for you to savor.


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