For me, summer is a hard time for quiet, alone time with the Lord. There is no consistent schedule provided by school or church programming. Many people take numerous trips or vacations during the summer. I also tend to do quite a bit more, soaking up those long summer days, so I am just not inside as much.
It seems like YEARS ago since I made my New Years Resolutions and set some spiritual goals for the year. Some things have been working okay (some things not at all), but the change in the summer schedule sure doesn’t help my consistency in reading my Bible or praying.
So how do you keep Jesus in summer vacation? How do you find time to spend with the Lord, when your life feels without structure or you’re constantly traveling?
Here are some things I have tried before that could work for you:
1. Just try for a Daily Ritual. I talked about this back in January, but instead of feeling like you have to complete this HUGE list of spiritual accomplishments each day, figure out one thing you can do this summer, that no matter how chaotic your day, it stays consistent. For you, it might be reading a chapter of the Bible before going to sleep. Or, praying a verse for your husband every morning while drinking your coffee. One thing you do each day that doesn’t change.
2. Put your phone to good use. When traveling, I feel like I would have to pack a separate bag for all of my quiet time stuff (Bible, journal, books, concordance, etc.) Because it can feel like a pain, I often leave them at home and put my phone to good use. I will take a picture of the verses I am praying over in my Husband journal. I will use a Bible app on my phone to read through Scripture. I will have a Christian audio book on my Audible app so that I have something to listen to while on the road. My phone ends up helping me stay focused on vacation when I don’t have other resources available.
3. Use your active time as a way to pray. Summer is a natural time to be more active, as lots of people will walk the dog, take a bike ride, or run on the beach. I’ve talked about Prayer Walking before, and using your active time for prayer is a great idea. Out for a bike ride with the family around the neighborhood? Change it into a time to pray for your neighbors. Watching your child play on the playground for the 100th time? Try praying for your child’s different body parts as ways to serve the Lord (his hands to be giving, mouth to be encouraging, head to be wise).
4. Add some good books to your list. I read a lot less during the summer months, but many people read a lot more. If you’re snagging a book to read this summer, try one that is about or points you towards the Lord. You can check out some Christian books I have read this year and last year to get some ideas.
5. Give yourself some grace. I also don't put too much pressure on myself...I am going to miss a few days here and there, and you know what? No big deal. Give yourself a dose of grace!
What ways do you remember Jesus during the summer? Any suggestions for the less structured, care-free summer days?
Prayer has always been difficult for me. Sometimes I feel on. Sometimes I feel off. Sometimes I can feel the presence of the Lord. Sometimes I feel like I am talking to nothingness.
But prayer is something I want to get better at doing.
I am currently reading Timothy Keller’s book on prayer, and in the book, Keller says he can “think of nothing great that is also easy. Prayer must be, then, one of the hardest things in the world.” Amen.
I think we can get better at prayer, and I think it takes quite a bit of practice, going through the motions even when things do feel off. A few years ago, when I was feeling especially in a rut, I started prayer walking.
What is prayer walking? To me, it’s a focused effort to pray specifically while out walking or exercising.
A few years ago, I was walking my dog on a regular hour-long route in our neighborhood many days. I decided I wanted to try to pray as I walked, but kept getting distracted, so I set up a little “prayer routine” as I walked to help me along. I decided there were certain things I wanted to pray over - my husband, our jobs, our church, our neighbors, family members - you get the picture. I made a little list, and then divided up the different prayer topics while walking. From Hillcrest Street to Townes Street, I’d pray for my husband. From Townes Street to Buist Avenue, I’d pray for our church…and so on and so on.
It took me a little while to get the hang of it, but after a few walks, I knew what I was supposed to be praying over on each street, and it kept me really on target.
The different streets became so ingrained in my mind that when someone I would meet would tell me she lived on Mountainview Ave., I’d automatically think: “you mean, Prayer for my Job Avenue?” It was funny.
Prayer walking is a little different, but really helped me to practice prayer free from distraction, in a fairly purposeful way. It also translates easily to walking on a track (each time around you pray for something different) or on a treadmill (change prayer topics after so much time).
Do you pray when you exercise? If so, how do you keep your mind focused?
Make sure to check out some more prayer tips!