When I needed to fit more prayer time into my busy schedule I started praying on my morning walk and it helped me expand my prayer time by 45 minutes. Here’s how to do what I call “Pathway Praying,” a term I use to describe praying while doing another activity.
How to do this prayer practice:
1. Assess your current prayer times for signs that you don’t have adequate time.
I discovered that I was praying daily after breakfast in the living room, but didn’t have much time to do it. My prayer time consisted of sitting down for about 10 minutes to pray and meditate. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough time to do much except ask God to meet my needs and to help the people who were sick or going through crisis periods that I had promised to pray for. I wasn’t feeling like I was connecting with God. And I wasn’t leaving my prayer time refreshed. But I didn’t see any way that I could fit more time for prayer into my busy schedule.
Common signs that you don’t have an adequate amount of time to pray include:
Rushing through your prayers
Not having time to meditate or for listening
Only focusing on pressing needs such as illnesses.
Not praying for blessings for those in ministry
Not engaging in praise, thanksgiving, and confession.
Losing concentration and planning out your to-do list
2. Assess your daily schedule.
If you discover you aren’t enjoying enough prayer time, look closely at your whole daily schedule, paying close attention to times when you are doing routine tasks during which your mind is free to wander. Don’t forget about times when commuting, exercising, doing household chores and even when you’re dressing or bathing.
I was in the habit of doing a long morning walk first thing every weekday to stay healthy and I was pretty disciplined about doing it every day, so it seemed like a good time to try multitasking by praying while walking.
3. Make – and stick to – your plan.
I tried praying a little during my walk. At first it was hard to make myself concentrate on prayer because I’d been letting my mind wander during my walk – and I liked that freedom. I started out with using the first 10 minutes of the walk for prayer, then eventually was able to devote the whole time to prayer. It takes mental discipline, but after the first month it becomes a habit.
4. Enjoy the parts of prayer you’ve been missing.
There are a large number of the parts of a balanced prayer life that can be done on the go. In fact some, such as praise actually thrive on being on the move, especially if you’re walking outdoors at dawn and can witness dawn or the glories of creation.
I eventually decided to devote certain sections of my walk to different prayer parts – one section to thank and praise God, one to pray for my church, one to pray for people who had lost their direction, one to pray for young married couples, one to pray for the those in need of healing, one to pray for those with ministries and visions, one to pray for work associates, one to pray for my family, one to confess my sins, one to pray for my close neighbors and one section where I stop by the lake for a brief time of praise and meditation.
5. Add short pauses for meditation.
Since I pray during a walk, I have developed two destinations where I stand and meditate. One is by a small pond. Another is up the road where a neighbor puts up a cross at Christmas and Easter as decorations.
6. Add in a separate concentrated time of meditation where you can sit and ponder in private.
Once I had freed up my ten minute prayer time in the living room of all of the asking, I had the luxury of using that time established in my schedule to more actively meditate by reading a passage of Scripture, pondering how it applied to my life and listening for God’s direction. It is critically important to continue to have a time of daily meditation in a quiet, private setting where you can go beyond the surface and think deeply about the spiritual side of life.
My personal experience and tips:
I absolutely thrive on this on-the-go prayer time. I feel like morning is the best time to do this because it sets my mind on spiritual things right away before I begin thinking about the rest of my day. I pray for around 100 people now by name and I often receive some of my best thoughts about the direction of my life while out on my prayer walk.
How to fit this prayer practice into your daily routine:
I believe that pathway praying is the prayer trend of the 21s Century because it works well in the way we live. Everyone has small segments of time when they are engaged in routine tasks that don’t require interaction with other people or close mental concentration. Why not pray!
Copyright Karen Barber 2011