We do need to exercise a kind of discipline in order to create prayer habits; it so hard to retrain our brains. Our brains change shape according to a habits, forming neural pathways, synaptic connections – and once those pathways are formed it becomes much easier just to follow that pathway, in a manner of speaking, then break out and do something different. We reinforce these pathways every time we repeat a thought or an action.
If our minds are so used to zipping about, it is so hard to slow down and focus. We are asking our brains to behave differently; we are asking them to go against their preference. We are trying to break a habit.
Every day, we reinforce our natural tendencies. You may have a natural inclination to be busy and by acting on it you reinforce it. So if pausing to reflect and pray makes you skittish and stressed, and you feel as if you are failing – don’t despair and don’t give up. You are just trying to break out of what your usual mode is. You’re retraining your brain. What you’re feeling is only to be expected.
Take it gently. Stop for a few minutes, then build it up. Provide yourself with items that help – or Bible, a candle, or journal, a colouring book, a beautiful picture to look at – or go out for a walk, finding a bench and just breathe, knowing that God is present with you.
Find a friend and pray together, pray in merry bedlam as a family, pray quietly or noisily, sing or shout or kneel and whisper.
Make yourself a cuppa and have a chat with your maker while you sip at your coffee or tea.
Stand in your garden and stare at the clouds tracking across the sky and consider the things God has made.
Pray as an individual, pray together as church, wherever we gather.
God is present; God is there.
God is HERE.