I remember the hesitation I felt so clearly. I was sitting in the confessional and my priest was asking me to name my sins. I felt like what I was about to say was nearly as bad as saying I don’t believe in God.
I braced myself for his reaction. “I’m finding my prayer time really boring.” To this credit, he didn’t even act shocked. I felt like what I was saying was that I didn’t like spending time with God but he understood and said it was actually quite common.
He actually saw my boredom as a positive sign. It meant I had hit a plateau. God was trying to gently nudge me along in my journey of faith. To invigorate your prayer life, you have to shake things up a bit!
There is nothing wrong with reciting familiar prayers. Praying a litany of such things as God bless Walter, God bless Sam, God bless Graham, and so on isn’t a bad thing either.
God wants us to ask for what we need, so prayers of petition, even when they feel like we’re just making a list, have their place too. But exploring new ways of communicating with God can add new energy to your prayer life.
It can deepen your relationship with Him and open up new pathways for you. Instead of viewing it as a roadblock, Father Clare suggested that I see it as an invitation. Looking at it that way actually makes it downright exciting!
Simple Ways to Invigorate Your Prayer Life
Pray through body movement.
I used to do this all the time when I taught Kindergarten but I didn’t always embrace it in my own solitary prayers. Of course, as a Catholic, we already genuflect, kneel, and make the sign of the cross, as well as running our fingers over the rosary.
If you’re not Catholic, you can do any of these things too! Give them a try and see if they bring about any new perspective. While these old familiar ways of praying through actions bring me comfort and peace, I decided to give other body movements as prayer a try too.
Make simple hand gestures while you pray – you can start by adding them to a familiar prayer. Reach your arms up overhead while asking God for help. Cross your arms over your chest (like you’re hugging yourself) while praying about God’s love.
Turn on some praise music and dance! It has been years since I’ve seen liturgical dance during a Mass and I miss it. So I just do it on my own at home.
Sing your prayer.
Find some praise music or familiar hymns that you enjoy and sing them as your prayer. I often intersperse singing into my prayers. It’s a comforting transition between my prayers that I quite enjoy.
You can also simply break out into spontaneous song. Sing whatever is on your mind instead of saying it! If that’s too far out of your comfort zone, use familiar tunes and add new lyrics.
Chanting is another option. Find a phrase that resonates with you and when you get stumped with what to pray, simply repeat the phrase over and over. This can help get you into a more open, relaxed state and open you up into more of a conversation with God.
One of my favorites is: Let the peace of Christ (inhale), Rule in my heart. (exhale). Another option is Lord Jesus Christ Son of God (inhale), Have mercy on me a sinner. (exhale).
Journal your prayers.
What’s great about journaling your prayers is that you can just start writing. You don’t have to edit yourself or worry about proper grammar; just let yourself release whatever you’re feeling onto paper.
Add little drawings (even stick figures and doodles) if you’d like.
Walk a prayer labyrinth.
Do you have a labyrinth in your town? You may not even know that you do as sometimes I find that they are kept very low-key. We actually have 5 here in London, not including portable ones that are used by schools and churches in the area from time to time. The Labyrinth Locator website can help you find one near you
Walking a labyrinth is a form of meditative type prayer. What I like about it is that I get some movement, fresh air, and something that gives me a bit of focus for my prayers. As you walk the winding path of the labyrinth, you can take part in prayer with your whole body.
If you can’t make it to a labyrinth, you can make or buy a finger labyrinth for a smaller, handheld version.
Hang up some prayer flags outside your home.
Tibetan prayer flags are meant to be hung up high where the wind can catch the flags and carry our prayers with it across the earth. You can buy traditional prayer flags online or simply use this idea as inspiration.
I’ve started making my own prayer flags to represent my specific requests and religious beliefs. What’s wonderful about them is that creating them is a prayer in itself but then, every time I see them hanging outside my home, I am reminded of those prayers.
Seeing, remembering, and affirming those prayers once again is in itself another simple prayer.
Pray in nature.
Head out to a favorite spot outdoors to pray. Simple observation of your surroundings and the beauty and wonder of nature can be very inspirational!
Allow yourself to experience the location you’ve chosen with as many senses as possible. Feel the air against your skin. Touch the grass or the bark of a tree. Take a deep breath of fresh air.
How many different colours can you see? How many shades of the same colour? Look at the incredible detail God added to his creation. What can you hear? The wind. The birds. Sounds of children playing.
With each sensory experience, offer up your wonder and gratitude to God. Then, take some time to simply “be”. Just let your mind and heart and prayer go in whatever direction it wants.
Prayer through art.
Grab yourself some art supplies and just create. You don’t need to try to make a “beautiful piece of art” – just enjoy the experience. Finger painting, using clay, even knitting can all be very relaxing and lead you into a zen-like prayer experience.
You could even grab a stack of magazines and make a collage or vision board. Pray over the images and let Got guide you! In the end, you may just see an answer to a prayer.
I keep both holy water and oil on hand at all times. Just a simple action like blessing and reminding myself of my baptism with the holy water before I leave my home can be a powerful prayer moment.
When I’m having a rough day, pausing for a moment to anoint myself with oil allows me to regroup, hear God’s voice, and continue in a calmer, more joyful way.
Pray through cooking
Does that sound crazy? Just bear with me for a moment. Daily actions like cooking, doing laundry, and cleaning your home can be excellent times to pray! After all, God isn’t just there for the big events of your life. He wants to be a part of the mundane as well.
Cooking is a great time to thank God for keeping you nourished as you prepare the food. When doing the laundry, you could pray over the clothing and ask God to bless the people who wear it. You could take the time to thank Him for providing all your needs.
Often, when doing household chores, you are able to “multi-task” so why not listen to praise music while you mop the floor? Put on a Christian podcast while dusting. Listen to a Bible study or Christian book as you fold your laundry.
It’s easy to turn those every day chores into more meaningful time with God. I find it makes them much more pleasant too!
Use a symbol to focus your prayers.
Although rosaries are usually associated with the Catholic church, prayer beads are becoming more commonplace in other faiths as well. The beads can help give you a focal point when praying. I find it keeps my mind from wandering as much!
I also have something called a holding cross. It’s a smooth wooden cross that has been shaped in such a way as to fit comfortably in your hand. Just having something tangible to hold seems to make me feel a little more immersed in my prayers and less scattered in my thinking.
What is your favorite way to pray?
More resources for your journey of faith: