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How Micro-Prayers Can Help You Get Through the Work Day

June 14, 2012

With the advent of ubiquitous mobile social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter within reach at a moment’s notice, many of us have taken to posting clever quips from our sporatic stream of consciousness, squeezed in to the cracks and micro-breaks throughout the busy day.

Standing in line at the grocery store, for instance, or waiting for the light to change, or sitting on the toilet – these all become ideal opportunities to grab the mobile and update our status. “OMG! When did the price of carrots shoot up? I must have been hibernating all year!” Just in time for the cashier to ring up your produce sale.

It stands to reason, then, that we should also apply these same new mobile technology techniques to our spiritual practices in the course of a busy day, posting little status updates to God. Why not take advantage of those same micro-breaks at work to channel some sort of spiritual booster into our stress-filled work days?

I have taken to saying brief micro-prayers, cramming them into the cracks of all the in-between spaces of the work day – before sending an email, or transitioning to the next meeting, or taking a breath after that difficult phone call. Although most of us would find it difficult to pack in a concentrated devotional, or a fall-on-the-knees prayer session in the office, there is no reason that you can’t stop from time to time to refocus your spiritual frame of reference.

The prayer I have been using lately is paraphrased from Psalm 70:1 and it goes like this:

“Come to my help, Oh God. Lord, hurry to my rescue.”

Simple. Useful. Easy to whisper. Sometimes I repeat it, like a mantra. Not that I’m in trouble all the time, but there’s no question I could use the help all day.

Getting into the habit of saying micro-prayers during your work day is a handy method for keeping you plugged in, incorporating spiritual practice into your work life. Take the opportunity to step back for a few moments today to call down some good grace on your situation.

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24 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2012 7:13 am

    A practical way to inject patience and peace into your day. Needed this.

  2. Tim Stewart permalink
    June 14, 2012 7:20 am

    Amen brother! As you know we are to “pray always” which is a challenging propostion for most of us. I have found as I continue in my walk with Jesus that He blesses me with the ability to pray in situations that I never would have thought possible. For instance… while in the midst of a difficult conversation. We have the God-given ability to fire off the proverbial arrow or silent prayer asking for wisdom, understanding, and that we may see the person we are interacting with as a child of God. Perspective is a good thing!

    • June 15, 2012 5:22 am

      This “constant prayer” is something I am still grappling with, which is why I gravitate towards specific words and phrases. I like your thought of being able to pray even while we are consciously “doing” something else… I suppose it is an intentional mindset we can strive to achieve more than anything. Thanks for these thoughts, Tim.

  3. Juanita permalink
    June 14, 2012 9:38 am

    I am always amazed at the timing of your columns, but most of all this one. I’m a second career nurse, in my 50s, orienting in an ICU setting. We barely have time to think but must make split-second decisions in order to save lives. I’m new to the job, some of my coworkers don’t believe in my abilities, but I know God wants me there. I am praying more intensely than ever outside of work, but this was the missing piece. Thank you.

    • June 15, 2012 5:24 am

      Wow, Juanita – that sounds intense. You can take Tim’s idea (from previous comment) and also try to weave in an ongoing presence of prayer as you are in the midst of crisis. Perhaps this is nothing more than making a habit out of prayer as a response to everything we encounter throughout the day?

  4. June 14, 2012 10:57 am

    that’s it….i’m definitely not getting a smarty pants phone.

    • June 15, 2012 5:24 am

      Ha! No, you just keep up with your lovely blog and photography and poetry. That will keep us very happy.

      • June 15, 2012 10:06 am

        i plan to interact through my blog. Not on SPACEBOOK and FLITTER, unless it’s an emergency or a breaking news flash. You all take care now, ya hear?

  5. pastordt permalink
    June 14, 2012 7:04 pm

    I have prayed like this for several years – sometimes using the Anne Lamott duo of, “thank you, thank you, thank you,” or “help me, help me, help me.” But more often using the long or short form of the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” Or simply, “Lord, have mercy.” When anxiety spirals, when tension rises, when I want to help in a certain situation but feel uncertain which direction to take the conversation – that’s the arrow that shoots heavenward. There is something immediately calming and centering about silently offering the name of Jesus in the center of daily life. Thanks for this, Bradley.

    (And here’s an interesting side-comment. Did you know that when Madeleine L’Engle was interviewing folks for pastoral staff positions – as a member of her church vestry – she would often ask them if they ever prayed or pondered scripture while in the bathroom. If they said yes – that was a HUGE plus for her check list! She believed that God goes with us everywhere and that a good shepherd and/or staff person lives that truth. I think she was right on the money.)

    • June 15, 2012 5:27 am

      Yes, I think there is a long line of pilgrims who have gone before us who used these brief prayers as a spiritual practice. I saw a whole PBS show on the Jesus Prayer, a group of monks who dedicated their lives to living/saying that prayer. It somehow comforted me immensly. I also love the Ann Lamott approach – she is not so far off the mark, is she? And that Madelaine L’Engle story just seals the deal here, as far as I’m concerned. THanks, Diane!

    • June 18, 2012 6:37 pm

      Diana, now I’m thinking of the lesson you taught me just last week about the Jesus Prayer.

      • pastordt permalink
        June 18, 2012 6:41 pm

        I cannot even list the number of people I’ve talked to about that prayer. For me, it has been life-changing, in a very, very good way. The older I get, the more often I return to short/sweet/memorized/ancient prayer forms: the 23rd Psalm, The Lord’s Prayer, the Jesus Prayer. It’s one of the reasons I have a collection of prayer books -the liturgical words so often capture what needs to be said (and what needs NOT to be said) so much better than I.

  6. June 15, 2012 12:30 am

    When I read Richard Foster’s book titled Prayer, he writes of breath prayers. Simple sentences like the Psalm you are using to breath out throughout our day. I often use, “show me how to serve you”.

    • June 15, 2012 5:28 am

      Another great prayer example – thanks, Tammy. It’s nice to see the growing collection here of samples people can draw from (or create their own!) to “breathe” prayers throughout the day.

  7. Susan DiMickele permalink
    June 15, 2012 11:43 am

    Simple is really good right now. We’ve been praying the Lord’s prayer at home — in part because we don’t know what to pray during a difficult time but in part because it’s simple. I need to add Psalm 70:1 to the list. I’m in!

  8. June 15, 2012 1:55 pm

    I love to do the same thing. It calms me down, helps me stay on track, and I think it’s a great example of what it means to pray without ceasing.

  9. pengudomu permalink
    June 15, 2012 8:54 pm

    Lord Jesus Christ son of God have mercy on me a sinner. The Jesus prayer —————

  10. June 18, 2012 9:30 am

    2 Corinthians 10:5 says “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I view your insightful recommendation as an opportunity to take my thoughts and mind captive that they may be obedient to Christ. There is so much temptation to let the heart and mind wander throughout the day that taking even a brief moment to realign yourself with Christ, as you have recommended, can go have a huge impact. Good stuff.

    Any by the way, did the price of carrots really go up? 😉

  11. Dan Black on Leadership permalink
    June 18, 2012 3:03 pm

    “micro-prayers,” I like it. What a great practice to put into action. The past several months I have been being more intentional about praying short prayers throughout the day. Great post.

  12. June 18, 2012 6:39 pm

    My most-used prayer is probably, “Lord, Jesus!” Other times I sing “Jesus loves me, this I know.” That’s it. Just those few words – kind of like Twitter. 🙂

  13. June 20, 2012 9:02 am

    I found you from Nancy’s poetry emails–BTW I like your poetry.
    I do this a lot in teaching esp. when I’m being cussed out or I sense I don’t have their attention or ‘just cuz’. I will also send a quck “Thank you Lord.” up when the little things go right like when a glass falls on the floor and doesn’t shatter or when it does and I don’t lose my temper, but instead chuckle. A simple praise to let Him know that I appreciate the peace I have (even in the midst of turmoil) because of Him.

  14. June 27, 2012 10:52 pm

    Reblogged this on Your Info Linc.

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