No matter what was going on in the world, Jesus would slip away and pray (Luke 5:16). Whether he was surrounded by crowds (Matthew 14:23), making a decision (Luke 6:12-13) or scared (Mark 14:32), Jesus prioritised time with the Father. It was important to him and sustained him. And we can get the same peace, strength, purpose and joy from following his example and forming our own rhythm of prayer.
For a relationship to work, time must be given to it to flourish. It’s the same with our relationship with God. While we can be assured that God loves us (Romans 8:37-39) and is always with us (Matthew 28:20), regular conversations with him allow these truths to sink into our lives.
As we get into the habit of sharing what’s happening in our day with God, we will begin to see him even more at work in our lives. Our conversations with God will become deeper as we build on previous stories and answers to prayers during the times spent together.
‘Making space to connect with God helps me keep a perspective on my life, because it reminds me that everything is temporary and that God is in control,’ shares Caroline Truttman, Tearfund’s communications officer for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Here are some tips on how you can build a rhythm of prayer into your life:
Choose a time that works for you
Each of our days look very different, so it’s important that we find times that work for us to make space to connect with God.
‘I am an early riser and so I connect with God in those moments when everyone is still sleeping,’ explains Patricia Pagulayan, Tearfund’s communications officer for Asia. ‘I have two kids so I try to wake up earlier, around 5 am, and spend time with God, meditating on his goodness. For me, it's important to set aside times of quiet to commune with God as this gives me strength for the day.’
‘Every morning before getting out of bed I take time to pray with my husband,’ adds Caroline. ‘Since our baby was born we sometimes have less time, but we always take the time. I tell God how grateful I am and how blessed I feel for every new day.’
Take a look at your schedule and think about how you could make time for God. This could be at the beginning or at the end of your day. Try sticking to this for at least a week before you try something new to give it time to work and to build a habit. It may help you remember if you set an alarm on your phone.
Include God in what you’re already doing
‘Throughout my day, I put God at the centre of my activities – I open my daily activities with prayer and close them with prayer,’ shares Richard Ndoutabet, Tearfund’s Country Director for Chad.
You can do this by inviting God to bless the conversations you’re about to have, the time you’re spending with others, or even the task you’re about to begin. Afterwards, you can share with God how it went and also bring all the glory back to God.
‘I listen to worship music while I’m getting ready for work or exercising,’ adds Muna Abu Ghazaleh, Tearfund’s communications officer for Eurasia and North Africa.
See if there are opportunities within your day to pray with others too. For example, at the workplace. If you regularly meet with your team, you could include a time for prayer with them. Gaston Slanwa, Tearfund’s Country Director for Niger and Burkina Faso, has time set aside with his team each weekday to do a devotion together online.
Others in Tearfund have also found it helpful to find times in the week when teams can meet online to study the Bible together, pray and encourage each other through prayer. ‘Now being a part of the Tearfund family, this has reinforced my connection with God through the morning devotions we conduct at the office three times a week as a team,’ shares Noorie Emmalin Dudley-Sam, Tearfund’s Country Director for Liberia and Sierra Leone.
If this isn’t possible in your workplace, consider using a lunchtime to pray online with a work colleague, friend or family member. Or find times as a household where you can do a devotion and pray together. If you live alone, you could set up a prayer group on WhatsApp.
Use the Bible as a foundation for your prayer
'The Bible is not an ordinary book. It is a word of power, it is a word of God, it heals our soul and our emotions. Our faith grows when we read the Bible,’ shares Seid Zebe, Tearfund’s Country Director for Mali. ‘Reading the Bible brings our heart close to God. In addition, I think, we should read or meditate with an attitude of humility by asking God to teach us and lead us by his Spirit.'
During the times you’ve set aside with God, think about how you could include reading the Bible. You could read books in the Bible, begin your time by reading a psalm out loud, or ask God to highlight what he wants you to focus on each day, or week.
How to continue to pray when times are tough
There are going to be times when it feels difficult to pray and to hold a conversation with God. Times when we’re experiencing exhaustion, sadness, anger and despair. Many of us will have only seen an increase in these emotions over the course of this last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, on top of life’s other very real challenges.
You don’t have to hide any of these emotions from God. He understands and he cares for you. You can shout, whisper, sob or be still in his presence. Know that he is listening to you and what’s on your heart, and that his love for you does not change.
Finding God in the midst of life’s challenges can sometimes feel overwhelming or difficult. So here are some ways you can still draw near to him during your day:
‘Usually when times are hard, I listen to gospel music from YouTube or I read Psalms or Proverbs. To be honest, when times are difficult, it is very difficult to pray,’ says Seid.
Lucie N'guessan, Tearfund’s communications officer for West Africa, adds: ‘When I can’t pray because of the pain I sing but my soul is praying through the songs I sing.’
‘Take it one day at a time,’ shares Caroline. ‘I remember how God has always been there for me in the past and this helps me strengthen my faith that everything will be alright. I may not understand why things are the way they are but it's enough to know that if I hold on to my faith the storm will pass. And also, when times are difficult I try to focus on all the blessings I still have.’
‘Remember that you are valuable, you are created in God’s image and he has marked us with his seal (Ephesians 1:13) and that’s what matters. This fact cannot be changed!’ says Muna.
It may help you to look outside of your window, go for a walk or sit out in a peaceful place, if you have one, your garden or balcony: ‘When I face challenges or become overwhelmed with concerns, just being surrounded by God’s creation helps me refocus and ground myself. There’s a sort of healing I find when I sit in our garden and just keep still, looking at God's creation,’ says Patricia.
Finally, remember that you’re not alone. ‘I try every week to help someone, sometimes it doesn't have to be something big, sometimes it's just about being present for another person. This reminds me that this is God's purpose for our lives – to help and love each other,’ says Caroline.