People often think prayer should look a certain way, but the fact is that you can pray wherever and whenever you like. It also doesn’t need to be a time-consuming part of your day. There are so many ways to pray that can be incorporated into your daily routine- whether you have a hectic timetable or a serene schedule. Here Jenny McKay, The Reverend Vet, gives us some great tips.
You don’t need to attend a place of worship, be by yourself, or even interrupt your gym session- it really is a totally unique experience for each individual. I’ve compiled a list of five unconventional ways that you can pray. However this list is not exhaustive- feel free to come up with your own!
1. While you exercise.
If you work out at home, prayer may not seem so out of place. However, many people would not typically associate the gym with worship. The gym may be an action-packed place to be, but that doesn’t mean you can’t pray there!
Exercise has so many health benefits, not least allowing you to clear your mind and focus your thoughts, which is the perfect state of mind in which to pray. Whether you exercise at home or in the gym, prayer can be worked into your fitness regime as easily as stretching or sipping your water.
Personally, I pray during my spin cycle at home and am building up a video series as “The Spinning Vicar”. Not only does spinning help me gain a clear mind as I pray, but it also helps with my endurance on the bike as I focus on my daily prayers as opposed to how exhausted I am!
2. Prayer within nature
Being in nature is a sure-fire way of improving your outlook on life and removing yourself from the hustle-and-bustle of the everyday. Sometimes a little bit of distance from our home and work lives is just what we need to gain an objective perspective on the things that are troubling us and the things that we want to strive for.
A great idea is to go on a mindfulness focussed walk, really taking the time to focus on the beautiful sights, smells, and sounds that surround you. When on this walk, think of the things that you struggle with, things that you are grateful for, and things that you have been meaning to say to God since your last prayer. You’ll likely find that these thoughts come easier to you than if you were sitting at home trying to reflect after a busy day.
In my series, Prayer Walks ‘Stepping Out’, I have found exactly that. If you’re struggling for inspiration, take a look at my Prayer Walks videos. As you will be able to tell when watching, you don’t need perfect weather conditions or a particularly stunning landscape to feel the benefits that a walk in nature can have on your worship.
3. Pet Prayer Groups
While we can all agree our pets are such important parts of our lives, they often don’t receive the same kind of meaningful attention as their human counterparts do. This is a shame and definitely an issue that I am keen to address myself in my Pet Prayer Facebook Group.
If you know some like-minded individuals who care deeply about both their pets and their relationship with God, it would be a great idea to get together and pray for your beloved animals.
This can either be remote or in-person, and brings a communal and social element to prayer. Prayer does not have to be a solo activity and can even be a social occasion, which will motivate every party to take a few moments out of their day to pray for their loved ones.
4. Pray with the Psalms.
Psalms are such beneficial pearls of wisdom that are often overlooked. You do not need to stick with the same prayer every time or even come up with your own. The best part about the Psalms is they are left open to interpretation. One person’s reading of a Psalm will almost always be slightly different to another individual’s reading. This means that you will always find a Psalm that works for you and your needs at that time.
I have a reflective series on Psalms, which guides you through a Psalm-based meditation on a weekly basis. In this meditation, we focus on our breathing, mindfulness of our bodies, and what parts of the Psalm particularly resonate with you.
If you’re struggling to find the words to communicate with God, his own teachings can often put it better than we can ourselves.
5. Prayer and humour!
Prayer is often deemed to be a very serious and solemn act, and it certainly can be if that works best for you! However, most people respond well to lightheartedness and an upbeat mindset- particularly due to the excess of doom and gloom in the world as of late.
Why not incorporate your sense of humour in your prayers? Whether it is dry or cheeky, your sense of humour is often one of the most authentic parts of yourself. That is after all what we strive for in prayer, to be the most authentic and sincere version of ourselves, as it is then we are most honest and humble.
Be cautious, however, to not use humour as a defence to mask how you are really feeling. This flies directly in the face of true authenticity. Therefore, combining humour and prayer should generally be reserved for our better days, where our hearts are most light.
I, for one, use prayer in the Reverend Vet comic series, in order to communicate the importance of prayer in a less heavy manner- as it should not be a chore!