Written by Sophia Reimer       

I’ve lived many years of my life in an almost constant state of busyness. It wasn’t intentional, but the truth is it’s much easier for me to be busy than for me to slow down.

Having a jam-packed schedule is my norm. Slowing down and choosing to rest has been difficult for me—until COVID-19 shut down a lot of the world.

My life went from finishing my last year of college, working two part-time jobs and balancing a social life to graduating from home, being laid off and having nothing to do but hang out with my parents. This time spent in quarantine was a gift in a lot of ways. It forced me to be still, pay attention to what Jesus is teaching me, and to become in tune with my soul again.

It can be so hard to make time to be with the Lord in the hectic speed of normal life. I didn’t do well with that during my last semester of college.

When I don’t create time in my day to talk to God, I become more stressed out, I lose perspective on life and am more easily hurt or upset by small things.

During self-isolation, God reminded me of the power and importance of spending time in prayer. Prayer is something that takes practice and discipline, and it’s not always easy. I have been spending more time in prayer than ever before, and the amazing thing is, I can see a drastic difference not only in my prayer life, but also how it affects the rest of my life.

I feel more at peace and more aware of God’s presence throughout the day. I am finding more joy in my prayer times, and I look forward to them. It’s still not always easy and doesn’t always feel amazing, but I’ve learned investing time with the Lord is never a waste.

One strategy I discovered is to create a peaceful, distraction-free space. I limited any foreseeable distractions such as phone notifications, noise, or clutter. I lit a candle and set a timer for 25 minutes, having only my Bible, notebook, and sometimes my guitar.

This calm atmosphere helped me focus. Creating a space for the sole purpose of talking and listening to God had a big impact. We see in the Gospels that Jesus often went into the wilderness alone to pray. Our environment is relevant to prayer. Silence and solitude help us focus our full attention on God.

Often, when I am feeling distracted and can’t focus, I go outside and either walk or just sit and listen to the birds. My mind slows down and I start noticing the beauty around me. This points me to the Creator and I feel closer to Him. Sometimes, it takes me a while to shift my awareness from my immediate surroundings. Asking God to focus my mind helps. It’s also crucial to give myself time to become aware that He is present and listening to me.

Making time to pray is easier when we aren’t going to work or school, but what happens when life goes back to normal? How do we keep setting aside intentional time for prayer? It might not be as simple when we’re not all stuck at home, but when we realize how life-giving it is, we will make space for it.

I used this time in quarantine to make new habits and routines around prayer and to make it a priority in preparation for life going back to normal. If you’re trying to create more space in your life for rest and being with Jesus, I would highly suggest reading The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, by John Mark Comer (WaterBrook, 2019). It gives a lot of tangible ways to live life in a deeper and fuller way.

One of these routines is sitting on my front porch at sunset, listening to the birds, watching the colours in the sky and reflecting on my day. It is a great way to look back on where I saw and felt God’s presence throughout my day. My time spent in reflection or just silence usually leads me to prayer. Often, God speaks to me when I come just to be with Him without an agenda, and I always leave with more peace.