I tend to rush. Scan the surface. Only occasionally take the time and energy to dive deep.
I am learning to slow down, to pray slow.
Slowness is another of the essential elements of praying we are exploring this month here.
With 2018 being the year of prayer on the Healthy Spirituality blog, in April we are looking at the keys of slowing down to spend time with God in stillness (last week’s post), slowness, solitude and silence. Each month this year on the Tending the Holy Thursdays there will be a focus on an aspect of prayer.
On my Thursday posts, I pick one theme (or person of faith) to explore deeper. I call this series Tending the Holy Thursdays.
I updated a handout I used in 2016 called “Slowing Down to be with God” and this will be this month’s free guide for you. It contains ideas, resources, and questions to consider when getting off the busyness treadmill to abide, to be with God in prayer. You can download this free guide by clicking the button at the end of the post.
How do I get off the treadmill of busyness and slow down? How do I even remember to notice God during my dash of to do’s and my scurry with hurry? Modern life does not encourage or support slowness.
Yet in slowing down I find God. I see him peeking out of the nooks and crannies of my schedule. I smile at his joys and delight in his presence when I pray slow.
I want to share with you today a few tips that are helping me scuttle the scramble and embrace the amble walk with God.
Don’t run through life so fast that you forget not only where you’ve
been, but also where you are going. Life is not a race,
but a journey to be savored each step of the way.
Slow Simmers Solutions
At my previous workplace I worked with a wonderful leader who brought healing to our department after a hurtful time of distrust and challenges. I loved working with her.
Then she announced her resignation. I cherished the time we had together those last few weeks, chatting and taking in her wisdom.
I asked her what her biggest lesson was in her role with us. Her answer?
“Things take time.”
I’ve never forgotten that.
- A good pot of soup always tastes better then simmered slowly.
- The flavors are deeper when tea steeps gradually
- Walks and talks with a loved one warm the heart when we linger together.
To pray slow brings the same elements into our time with God.
“Things take time.”
Prayer takes time.
In many a piece of music, it’s the pause or the rest that gives the piece its beauty and its shape.
I have noticed when on my silent retreats, I slow the pace of my walking. I set the fork down more often when I eat. I pause during the meals and just contemplate the view outside the window. My whole being slows down.
Take a walk with a turtle. And behold the world in pause.
What really struck me the last time on retreat was how slowly I rose from the table.
Instead of bounding to my feet to move I rose gracefully, deliberately, and almost gently. A sense of calmness and quiet led my every movement.
We can practice slowing down physically even in our ordinary living. Take our time when we walk. Rise gradually from sitting. Linger longer over a meal. Pause between words. Take a breath before starting the next sentence.
In my morning prayer time, I enter slowly. I imagine those puppies sleeping at my feet – see last Thursday’s post for the explanation of that image.
I take three deep breaths. Sometimes more in order to relax. A few years ago, I learned the trick to gently close one nostril with my finger at the side of my nose, breathing inward on one side, outward through the other. Sounds silly, but it works.
Physically slowing down cultivates slow prayer.
Gem Fadling shared on her interesting podcast, The Unhurried Living Podcast, (I highly recommend this podcast – love it) her spiritual practice she developed called “SLOW.” I shared her practice previously on this blog.
Each letter of this word represents a step to refocus and find refreshment throughout the day. It is simple, easy to remember, and a joy to add to your tools for spiritual growth.
SLOW stands for STOP, LINGER, OBSERVE AND WONDER.
Some of her tips for each step include:
- STOP – Stop. Stop moving. Stop thinking. Be still. In this moment it is just you and God.
- LINGER – Take a deep breath. The grace for this moment is right here…right now. Use your senses to take in the moment.
- OBSERVE – Notice any anxious thoughts. Observe the pace of your heart.
- WONDER – What might God have for you in this moment?
This whole focus on slow prayer reminded me of this quote. That first sentence resonated with me today:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability— and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you; your ideas mature gradually—let them grow;
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will) will make of you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give Our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ
Don’t forget to download this month’s free guide “Slowing Down to be with God” by clicking the button below.
How do you practice slow prayer?