I’ve long been fascinated by a particular dynamic in many people’s prayer lives. They often don’t have time to pray, they tell me — but when I ask if they are able to pray more when they do have more time and flexibility (such as weekends, vacations, snow days, etc.), they sheepishly admit that they don’t pray then either!
Here we are in the midst of the pandemic – and some people have a ton more free time than usual, and some are working overtime and have a lot less free time than usual. But no matter which is the case for you, there is no doubt in my mind that finding a regular routine of prayer can be helpful for you in maintaining a sense of equilibrium, as well as a connection to God. And who better to turn to than Benedict of Nursia (480-554), who had a huge and lasting impact on Christianity through his monastic Rule of Life.
One of the major aspects of his Benedictine Rule was setting up a pattern of moderation in all the activities of a monk’s life: worship, prayer, spiritual reading, labor, eating, and sleeping. It was the pattern that was important, more than a rigid set of do’s and don’ts.
One way of bringing that pattern into our own lives is to set a few moments during your day to stop and say a prayer. It could be as simple as saying “Thank you, God.” Or “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.” You could set reminders up on your phone, and have them go off near the time you get up in the morning, at noon, at the end of the “working day,” and before bed — and when the alarm goes off, simply say your prayer.
Of course you could also pray a little more elaborately, adding the Lord’s Prayer, another favorite prayer, and/or some of your own spontaneous prayers for yourself and others. In addition, you might check out the resources in the Book of Common Prayer (or the eCP app) – there is nice and short set of Daily Devotions on pp. 136-140.
I think you’ll find that setting up a daily rhythm of prayer, no matter how simple or how elaborate, could be a silver lining and a blessing in this time of crisis. Your prayer practice will become a way of regularly connecting to and grounding yourself in God. A pattern of prayer will comfort you in times of distress, it will help you find places of hope and joy, and it will feed and nourish your soul!