I once heard of a lady who began training for a marathon. Her initial training included the simplest of goals. “Can I run to the next lightpost?” Her approach was to start at the most basic level and work from there. Just a year later she ran in her first marathon.
What if we took her approach and applied it to our prayer life or other spiritual activities that often frustrate us? Besides starting at the most basic point, another principle that can be applied here is Parkinson’s Law. This law states that an activity will increase in complexity based on the time allotted to completing it. In other words, tighter deadlines force us to focus and our attention does not sway to non-essential distractions.
So how can we use the basic approach and Parkinson’s Law to help kick start our prayer life:
1. Start with this basic question, “Can I pray about my love of God?” If the answer is yes, then do it and then ask yourself this, “Can I pray about my devotion to God?” If the answer is yes, then do it and move to a question about your family, then your work, then your church, and then your world. If at any point, you feel distracted or do not know what to pray then stop and try the exercise the next day.
2. Set a tight deadline for your prayer time. If you only have two minutes to pray then you will stay more focused and those pesky thoughts that derail prayer times will seem less important. Of course, I don’t suggest putting huge time constraints on time with God and I realize that God deserves more than two minutes but if the alternative is a non-existent prayer life or an aimless 15 minutes full of drowsiness and daydreaming then do what works best and steadily increase your time.
Why don’t you start now? Push your keyboard away and for the next two minutes go through your basic prayer questions. At the end of two minutes stop and evaluate how it went. Do the same thing tomorrow and increase to three minutes. Try to get up to five – 10 minutes.