We’ve all been there: those “I Know This Is My Quiet Time But My Brain/To-Do List/Kid Feels Very LOUD” moments. There’s that desire… which on days like these, can start to feel like pressure… to have pacified souls like Mary though our lives are shouting, full of Martha demands. So here are a few suggestions to help you be still and know. (Please comment with your own ideas, too!)
1. Take a walk, go on a run, or take a bike ride while you pray.
2. Thank God for each of the things and people ping-ponging through your brain.
3. Use your hands to do something quiet and mindless: Crochet. Open pistachios. Brush the dog.
4. Plug your headphones into some worship music, and simply worship.
5. Write down your prayers—as articulate or scattered as you want to.
6. Make one of your favorite snacks or a great cup of tea or coffee. Create positive, rewarding memories for your time with God that help you unwind!
7. Talk to God about each of the things that are distracting you. Turn your thoughts into prayers—into communion with God, no matter what’s rushing by on the outside.
6. Make music or artwork as an act of worship. Write a poem; sing; play an instrument; paint reflectively, perhaps meditating on a Bible story.
9. Take a bubble bath or a hot shower. Again, help yourself to associate God with rest and fulfillment rather than demands or inadequacy.
10. Keep your to-do list beside you, and if something comes up while you’re having your quiet time, write it down so that you can let it go. Or, set a timer, and until it rings, write down all the things you’re wanting to remember—even just to think about later. When the timer rings, turn your attention back to your time with God.
11. After the kids are in bed, head out to a coffee shop for your devotions just to make it special.
12. Go on a “prayer walk” around your neighborhood, praying for your neighbors, the kids and faculty in the local school, the churches around you, etc.
13. Play a sermon podcast or worship music while you work out. As you shower afterward, take time to reflect and pray.
14. Stretch your body while you pray. You’ll feel physically more peaceful and relaxed.
15. Keep a spiritual book you’re interested in for days when you can’t focus. Make sure you interact with what you’re reading.
16. Make sure to keep a pencil handy during your quiet time to keep your brain engaged and remember what you’re learning and hearing.
17. Have a kid signal: When you see this, you can’t bother me except for a real emergency. I’m having my time with God and it’s important. Whether it’s something hanging on your doorknob, a hat you wear, a locked door, or a timer you set, hold firm to your signal. Communicate this priority to your kids. (Susanna Wesley, mother of John Wesley, was known for putting her apron over her head for her prayer time.)
18. Soak your feet while you pray.
19. Try to avoid getting too prescriptive in your times with God. Just like the same kind of date doesn’t work for every couple, there are different ways—“love languages”, even—that each of us are wired to best commune with God. Sacred Pathways by Gary Thomas may open your eyes to different ways that you best open up spiritually. Think about what qualifies in your mind as a “good quiet time,” and why you believe this. Prayerfully compare this with Scripture’s idea of being with God.
20. Pick one verse to meditate on as you close your eyes and breathe deeply. You might choose a verse that helps you to focus on God alone! Or, if you’re struggling with anxiety or feeling overwhelmed, for example, focus on a verse that reminds you of God’s faithfulness and control. If you’re feeling like you have too much to do, consider Jesus’ words to Martha in Luke 10:41-42.
21. If you just can’t seem to stop your brain, make a commitment to yourself—even put it on your calendar or to-do list—to try again at a later time. Sometimes that happens in our conversations with people, too. And Jesus Himself occasionally had to postpone His time with God to meet the needs of God’s people.
22. Post Bible verses around your house, and change them frequently. Even writing them out can help with meditation.
23. Create a “drink deeply” time once a week, where you really set aside time to just enjoy God and not feel rushed by the next appointment on your list.
24. Proactively, make sure you’re getting plenty of rest at night.
25. Check out A Praying Life by Paul Miller for ideas to grease the wheels of your prayer life.
26. Sit in a place that is calming and nourishing for you. Change your “usual” venue if need be.
27. If this is a normal occurrence, prayerfully consider your schedule. Are these the “good works [God] has prepared in advance for [you] to do” (Ephesians 2:10)—and only those? It’s so easy for us to gain the whole world at the expense of our souls.
28. Be honest with God. Talk with Him about your lack of focus, and allow Him to explore your heart for anxieties—to be Your Prince of Peace. Remember His compassion and understanding for you! Ask Him to turn your eyes on Jesus.
How about you? Please share your practical ideas that help you connect with God—especially on days when life seems poised to shut out what’s/Who’s most important.