From Chapter Two of Joyful Soul: A Promise Worthy of Trust (Copyright 2013 by Laurie Mattera)
We live in a busy and hectic world. I don’t know about you, but many times I get to the end of my day thinking, “I had planned to accomplish so much more today, if only I had more than twenty-four hours in a day!” And no matter how much I plan and organize and motivate myself, there is always more to do. As a result, I was often under the impression that to take 20 minutes out of my day in the morning and another 20 minutes later in the day for prayer and meditation was not possible. Worse, I sometimes believed it was a waste of my time, which is already a priceless commodity to me. And so I soldiered on, depleting myself and continuing to run non-stop on what I can only liken to a hamster wheel. I had an intuitive sense of needing to stop for a while each day and recharge. I always had God on my mind, praying to Him for guidance but splitting my attention between my tasks at hand and longing to connect with God. Occasionally, I would set time aside to pray and meditate on my best course of action for the day. Those times always left me feeling peaceful and recharged. Even though I did not get specific answers all the time to my dilemma of the moment, I emerged stronger and refreshed, at peace, and knowing an answer would come.
So why on earth did it take me so long to finally make prayer and meditation a permanent part of my day? I realized the reason is that I kept slipping back into a sense of false security and importance, combined with believing I just didn’t have the time to devote to this practice, and nothing else, for 40-45 minutes per day! Could it also be that I felt I did not deserve this time to myself? Was it selfish? Hmmm, yes maybe that factored in too. Interestingly, the more often I took time for myself and quieted those voices telling me all the reasons I should not be allowing myself the luxury of prayer and meditation, the easier it became to claim it for myself. And with the time I spent praying and being still listening for answers, came a more productive, peaceful, and joyful me!
Prayer and meditation time can be different for everyone. There are many approaches to praying and meditating. All you need to do to begin this practice is to…begin.
By way of example, I will describe the method I use daily: I keep it simple. I begin with a prayer of gratitude for my many blessings (and yes, you have blessings in your life. Focus on them for a while and you will find you can come up with quite a list!), followed by asking for forgiveness for anytime I have offended God, as well as help in forgiving those who have offended me. (Here is a secret about forgiving others: YOU are the one who reaps the benefit in the sense of well-being and peace it provides!) Next I present my needs, concerns, and hopes to God. I tap into my faith and belief in His promises. Sometimes I am in emotional pain, and I let the spirit pray for me. I do this by not attempting to think of words to verbalize my feelings, but rather by letting my emotions and feelings be presented to God through the Holy Spirit. Every single time I do this, I feel relief. I know you can, too. Then I listen (this is the meditation part for me). I remember the words in scripture, “Be still and know that I am God,” and I use the remaining time to imagine a peaceful place, with Jesus before me, letting myself feel loved. Many times, a message will come to me as to how to handle the problems I am facing at the moment.
Try it for one week. At some point before lunch every day, set a timer for 20 minutes. Begin by counting your blessings and saying, “thank you.” Ask for forgiveness, and forgive others who you believed have wronged you. Then focus on the issues of your day, or a recurring problem you are facing, or help you would like to see for a loved one. Ask for help. Or pray in the spirit if you don’t have the words yourself. Next, be still. Take a deep breath, and imagine yourself in a peaceful place. This can be by the ocean, the mountains, a field of fresh flowers, or whatever stirs up peaceful feelings for you. Feel the sunshine on your face. Feel it warm your entire body. I imagine Christ before me while in this peaceful place. What will you imagine? Finish your meditation by asking God to hear your prayer in Jesus’ name. Tell Him Jesus promised all we asked for in His name will be granted, and that you believe this is a promise worthy of trust. Believe you will get answers, and believe they will be the right ones. I am astounded at the way my prayers are answered sometimes. Sometimes I don’t get what I prayed for at all, but in the long term it winds up being the best possible outcome for me and my family. Repeat this procedure sometime in the evening.
I believe, Joyful Soul, you will recharge, refresh, feel peace, and get answers!