Again, my apologies for my extended absence from this blog! I had no intention of being gone for so long but have recently been very busy. As I reported previously, I am currently writing a memoir for a good friend of mine, and that is taking a lot of time and creative writing energy! I love it! So far, we are almost halfway done with the book – 8 out of 16 chapters!
I’ve also been very busy with the prayer beads. I’ve had a booth at craft shows for each of the past three weeks, which have all been really successful. It’s been wonderful to meet so many new people and introduce them to the concept of prayer beads. People are responding with such excitement and genuine interest. In the midst of our conversations they often share tidbits of their prayer lives, which is a great honor. I always love hearing where people are in terms of prayer, and I always learn so much.
But I have really missed getting to come up with ideas for new prayer bead devotions and am recommiting my time to doing that on a regular basis. I am going to repost a previous devotion to get us back in the groove, but before I do that I wanted to share a new prayer tool that I’ve developed and have been practicing recently. Given the time I spent at Soul Feast this past summer I want to add this idea of prayer tools as a new feature of my blog, because I think there are many things we can do to enhance our prayer lives. These tools can be used in addition to your prayer beads, or at times when you don’t have your prayer beads. I hope that you find them useful.
I wish I could say I don’t do anything in my day before prayer, but that’s not the case. As soon as my feet hit the floor I’m busy getting my son ready for school, straightening up the house, working out (hopefully), and getting ready for the day. This all happens pretty fast and furiously, and as much as I love this efficient use of time, I don’t want to carry that hectic pace with me throughout the day, and I certainly don’t want to carry it into my creative writing. So before I start “work” I sit down to pray. That, for me, is the sign that it’s time to focus, to settle down, to stop running around and thinking of a million things, and instead to gain strength and inspiration from God. What better way to do that than through prayer?
But because this prayer time is, in essence, a transition period from harried Kristen to calm Kristen, I have to start by slowing down my mind, body, and soul, otherwise my racing heart rate and type-A mind will keep me from being still with God. So here’s what I’ve been doing for the past two months, which has been enormously helpful to me:
1. I sit down and make sure that I’m comfortable.
2. I take a minute to start to calm down, becoming aware of my breathing.
3. I hold my prayer beads and take a long, deep breath, in an effort to start to calm my mind and body.
4. I close my eyes and think of three things that I want to let go of in that moment, such as stress, fear, anxiety, busyness, doubt, anger, bitterness, etc. Three is the magic number.
5. I inhale deeply while saying, “In the name of God the Father,” then I exhale deeply while saying, “I let out _____,” and I name whatever #1 was on my list of things to let go of.
6. I inhale deeply while saying, “In the name of God the Son,” then I exhale deeply while saying, “I let out ______,” and I name whatever #2 was on my list of things to let go of.
7. I inhale deeply while saying, “In the name of God the Holy Spirit,” then I exhale deeply while saying, “I let out ______,” and I name whatever was #3 on my list of things to let go of.
8. I begin my prayer time.
This whole exercise takes maybe 10 – 15 seconds, but it has had a great impact on my prayer life, as well as my overall mental health. I am much more present in my time with God because I am calmer and have released a lot of stress and other stuff. And I love it because this tool makes me conscious of the fact that I can release my stress and fear by the power of the Trinity.
If you decide to try this tool, let me know how it works for you, and if you have any ideas for improving on it.
In the meantime, I wish you peace,