Finding Time for Silence and Prayer

With the new school year here, you might find that life has hit the fast-forward button. Sometimes I feel like a character in a video game, dodging on defensive all that life is throwing at me rather than carefully, with control, plotting my course. Now it might seem that the best thing to do in order to calm the upcoming storm would be to plan, prioritize, and delegate. But counterintuitively, the best thing to do is to regularly hit the pause button. Parents ultimately need to be people of peace. And in order to give peace, we need to have peace within ourselves. Nothing gives us more peace than spending some time in silence and prayer at least once a day. So the big question is—how do we find time to pause amidst the chaos?

Is Morning Really Best?

Many prayer gurus recommend the morning, but you may also find—like ourselves—that mornings are hard to predict. The kids have been up all night and we’re exhausted and out of it, or the kids wake up ravenous and demanding. Whatever the case, it sometimes takes us parents a while to get our heads into gear and ready to step away from it all.

Prayer, silence, being alone, allows us to re-navigate our priorities. And there really is no better time to do that kind of thinking than in the morning. That being said, if we don’t have substantial time in the morning, taking a few moments when we wake-up to orient ourselves and give a quick self-pep talk puts us in the right attitude and points us in the right direction.

In our opinion, there is no perfect time, but it does feel good to have taken “away time” in the morning.

Making A Commitment to Ourselves—and Our Spouse

Gerhard and I have made a commitment to each other and ourselves to take 20min of silence away from the kids—every day. This time is not spent sleeping (although that sometimes happens), nor is it spent working (never). It’s a commitment to spend time with God, or simply a meditation of life. It’s not meant to be a griping or sulking session—or a moment to “run away” from our duties. But a real commitment to relationship.

Journalling, reading a motivating book, contemplating holy Scriptures, or simply deep breathing—these are different ways that people spend their time of silence and prayer. I imagine most people, like ourselves, begin to notice a sense of calm when silence and prayer is done regularly—not when we have the time, but when it becomes the bedrock from which we build our day. And for this reason, we have to be committed to supporting our spouse in this endeavour. We have to help them carve out that space by helping to make prayer time possible, by giving them the time away, helping with the kids, or giving them an encouraging word. I think it’s one of the best things we can do for our spouse.

Take it for the Team

Even if your spouse is not committed to daily silence and prayer, you can take it for the team. If this time to recentre makes a difference in your life, then its goodness will overflow into the life of your family. In this way, everyone benefits from “your” time away. In no way is it selfish, so don’t allow guilty thoughts to stop you from going forward.

As Steven Pressfield writes in The War of Art, a special kind of resistance always crops up when we try to do something new. Recognize that your hesitation, that your excuses (which will be many and will seem urgent) are simply signs of resistance. Taking a pause in our fast-paced world is extremely difficult. All the resistance we feel to taking some time for silence and prayer is a sign that what we are beginning to do will be really great for our life. Let’s just do it.

Take the Time to be alone with yourself

In Gerhard and I’s case, both of us being committed to 20min of silence and prayer a day really keeps the other person accountable. We check-in on each other throughout the day. We ask deep questions about what has come to us in prayer. We support each other. I am extremely grateful for this.

So, take the time, any amount of time. I recommend 20min because that has worked for us. Some people are able to take an hour and I think that would be wonderful.But I think the important thing is to pick a time that you can remain committed to. I hope you are able, this September, to take some time every day in silence and prayer.

Our job in this life is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be but to find out who we already are and become it.
— Steven Pressfield, The War of Art: Break Through the Blocks and Win Your Inner Creative Battles