Prayer Break

By Staff Writer

As teenagers, schedules can get pretty busy with all the classes, homework, extra-curricular activities, job or college applications, time with friends, family responsibilities…. And summer is a great time to rejuvenate.

But how? Try being alone. And alone means without a smart-phone or other screen. One of the best ways to help ourselves succeed in life is to be alone with God.

Jesus tells us to “go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private” (Matt 6:6 NLT). Eugene Peterson paraphrases Jesus’ words this way:

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.” (The Message, Matt 6:6)

The “secluded place” was also called a “closet” (KJV). The concept of a closet is actually quite wonderful. The closet is full of supplies, full of everything we need. So when we go into our prayer closets, we’re going into a place that has everything we need. That’s pretty cool!

I also love the concept of being honest. When we’re with God, we don’t have to make a show. We don’t have to pretend that we’ve got it all under control. Indeed, God’s in control. God knows us, our real selves, as wholly good, and loves us unconditionally. Deep down, we all want to feel loved. We even want to love ourselves. So we turn to God in quiet, humble, alone prayer … and we find that love. Feeling God’s love changes our moments and our days and our lives.

So, let’s commit to one-on-one God time, every day. Let’s go into the closet, room, or quiet place by ourselves with God. But it seems that there are so many other things that take priority. So what can we do? Here are some ideas:

Spend five minutes alone with God everyday before you check your phone, look at a screen, get out of bed. Without any agenda, just listen to God until you feel God’s presence in your hearts and lives.

Then, before school or work, open a passage in the Bible and think or journal about it. See how God is guiding you. It helps if you pray quietly before you open the Bible. Then, pick a quality of God to express that day.

Set reminders on your phone every hour with messages that help you reconnect with God and center yourself. For example: Smile and appreciate each family member. God is in control. Be in the present. Laugh and enjoy. Check in with God. God is equal to every emergency. And then, as an extension of this, find space to be by yourself with God throughout the day.

Find sometime in the day to be still. While collaboration is important, significant invention usually starts in solitude, which allows us the time to think, to ponder, even to be bored. Boredom can drive us towards creativity. We let our thoughts wander and see things differently, find connections we hadn’t noticed before, ideas we hadn’t thought of before.

Go outside to be in nature. Nature gives us a sense of peace and connectedness that we can’t get with a virtual simulation, in busy or noisy spaces, with screens. We’re meant to commune with nature, with the great outdoors. It may sound corny, or trite, but it’s true. There’s inspiration and beauty in nature that can fill us up with so much wonder and gratitude.

Throughout the day, and especially at the end of the day, be grateful. Write down three things you were grateful for that day.

Gratitude is a form of prayer. Prayer doesn’t have to be complicated. It can simply be an affirmation of God’s presence working our lives. It can be listening to God. It can be holding onto a simple truth about God and God’s view of us—it’s all “very good.”

Just praying to find out more about God brings blessings. Quiet prayer is a gift we give ourselves—to sense God’s grace amidst our hectic lives and then to walk and talk with grace. That grace enables us to make great connections, to do great things, and to succeed.