“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6: 5 - 6)
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. (Mark 1: 35)
How have you been coping with lockdown and the lack of routine over the past months? A bit like a lengthy stay in hospital, one day merges into another and we soon start to lose our bearings. Many of us have been working from home, parents with children have been home schooling, and all the usual markers within the week have become blurred. On numerous occasions I have lost track of what day it is, thinking it’s Thursday when it’s only Tuesday!
When we returned from ten days annual leave (mainly based at home!), I decided I needed to restore some boundaries. Consequently, I have taken to getting dressed up for church on a Sunday and dressing appropriately for work during the week despite the fact that I am unlikely to be seen by anyone. I have found this is improving my routine and returning some kind of rhythm back into my life. This, in turn, has improved my sense of well-being and normality.
One of my priorities has been restoring quality time for God each day. I usually write in a prayer journal and use daily bible reading notes as part of my prayer routine. I find writing things down and talking to God on paper helps me to keep focused. It also helps me to look back and see answered prayers. However, I don’t always find this easy, especially when I am travelling a lot or working on a writing task that demands particular concentration. It is a discipline that frequently slides, and the challenges of lockdown have not helped, despite not going anywhere.
Jesus sets us an example. He was in the habit of getting up early and going to a quiet place to pray. And when he was teaching the disciples about prayer, he suggested they took themselves off into their own quiet room. I find the stillness of the early morning and the armchair in my study works best for me. It doesn’t have to be early morning. Some people find quiet space at the end of the day more conducive to prayer.
Whatever time we choose, setting aside time with God is important. Let’s make sure it is part of our daily rhythm and routine as we move step by step towards a new normal.
Jesus, Lord of life, you have given us an example to follow. Help us to set aside time with you day by day, that we might hear your voice and come to know you better. Amen.