Spiritual Practices During Stressful Times

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These days, those of us who have practiced spiritual disciplines may be finding ourselves worrying about our prayers, being distracted, becoming fearful, or going through the motions. You know that God is the answer, but find yourself feeling disconnected. If you are feeling stuck in your prayer time, distracted and numb, I’d like to suggest some ways to spice things up bit so that you can enjoy your time with God and connect more deeply with Him.

Much of what we’re hearing about COVID-19 seems beyond comprehension and certainly beyond our control. Everyone feels helpless. Yet, we can be productive in this hunkering time; we can give our faith disciplines a little novelty as we wait it out. How? By embracing our right, not our left brain.

Science tells us that our logic and critical thinking is housed in our brain’s left hemisphere. Predictability, reliable solutions, and controlled outcomes are default favorites for the left brain. When we experience a crisis, we tend to rely on our left brain to figure it out for us. We wade through data, evaluate evidence and make decisions, hoping to somehow make sense of what is happening. And that is where we may become stuck.

I suggest applying the unique functions of the right brain-emotional and artistic expression, creativity, music, color, imagination, symbolism, and ceremony–to name a few–to add richness to the faith experience.

Your 5 senses:

Use the senses the good Lord gave you to perk up your time with Him.

  1. Sight: Let art and color become a backdrop for your prayer time. Sibil MacBeth in her little book, Praying in Color, recommends that we select a person or topic for prayer and doodle with colored pencils as we pray about them or it, letting the imagination and pencil follow the Holy Spirit’s leading. As scriptures or names come to mind, include them in the picture. As you’ve worked on the drawing, you’ve kept your mind focused, and upon its completion, you have a colorful prayer reminder.Illustrate (in color) a bible verse or story as you meditate upon it. Include other relevant scriptures, teachings, lyrics or bible truths as they come to you. Perhaps you’ll want to memorize this verse. It will be lots easier if you can bring to mind the illustration you’ve drawn. Keep a log of your drawings as a souvenir of your resilience when COVID-19 is a distant memory.

    Illustrate a bible verse by using colorful symbols. Again, this will assist in your recall of the verse.

  2. Sound: Memorize encouraging scriptures or quotes by recording them on your phone, and practice saying them along with your own voice. Listen to it as you go to sleep and when you start your day. Teach them to your children. Talk about them throughout your day.Music! Experiment with new styles of worship music, or re-learn the old hymns. Many of them have fascinating backstories. Locate the scriptures that inspired the lyrics. You’ve automatically memorized more scripture! Keep a journal of songs that speak to your heart. Upon awakening, reach for a worship song instead of the news headlines. Pick up your old clarinet and see if you can still make a joyful noise unto the Lord. Sing. Whistle. (These are all actually anxiety busters.)

    Dance along with praise music, create hand motions, imagine yourself singing these lyrics to our Lord. How would He respond to your musical offering?

  3. Taste: “A little bit of coffee and a whole lot of Jesus!” Pair anything you love to sip or taste with devotional time. You could imagine sitting across from Jesus enjoying fellowship over a cup of java.
  4. Smell: Experiment with applying or diffusing essential oils while you pray, read or worship. Many oils have bonding properties. There is a reason why frankincense and myrrh were gifts for babies and mommas in Bible times! Here are a few others which promote a sense of peace and unity: rose, neroli, geranium, sandalwood and lavender.
  5. Touch: Hand wash your dishes while you praise; move! dance! walk! stomp! chop a dead tree! try some crafts, coloring books, or play with sand while you enjoy online sermons. Touch and movement can help you to focus if your mind tends to wander into worry.

Those who study the emotional and experiential centers of the brain tell us that the right brain has its own special way to communicate and understand God. A fetus develops the right brain first. It’s a familiar and wonderful way to share our concerns with our Creator, and experience His comforting grace.

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