Five Kinds of Prayers to Make it Through Christmas
Try these unconventional ways to pray this holiday season to ensure your spirits stay high, keeping your celebrations merry and bright!
5 Kinds of Prayers to Make It Through Christmas
While usually merry, sometimes the Christmas season can weigh on our spirits. With the gathering of family and friends, inevitably some holiday woes will arise as we attempt to jingling our way through the season. Unfortunately, the glorious reason for the season is often met with stressors and certain follies that can make our Christmas celebrations becomes as appealing as a lump of coal in our stocking.
One sure-fire way to sweep away our inner Scrooge is prayer.
Amidst the holiday distractions that include the clanging of red kettles, long lines at our favorite gift-buying stores, parking lots with no spaces, and family gatherings with all of our beloved extended family and in-laws and outlaws, here are five different ways we can integrate the spiritual discipline of prayer to our Christmas routine to assert a hap-hap-happy holiday spirit this coming season.
1. SILENCE: As many of us have experienced, “silent night” may not always be the most accurate descriptor of our typical Christmas season. For a variety of reasons, everything seems to be turned up to 11. With Feliz Navidad on repeat, ringing and jingling bells, and Ho Ho Ho’s bouncing off of decked halls, its easy for the happies season to turn into a Christmas cacophony!
Have you ever left a concert feeling exhausted? One of the causes of your fatigue can be linked to your auditory system being on overdrive. The sounds of Christmas that are everywhere during this short season, broadcasted over a few weeks, can be an unassuming culprit causing debilitating exhaustion.
What if instead, while in the midst of the Christmas season, we sought out places and postures of silence? Could our time of prayer become instead a time for pressing MUTE on the external noises and internal ones?
Whether we like to admit it or not, we are walking amplifiers, contributing to the auditory Christmas chaos with our own voice, opinions, and preferences. What would happen to our own emotional and spiritual health if we put on some noise-cancelling headphones but also canceled our own lips?
The Christmas story begins with angels speaking to ordinary people, in the silence of the night. Make no mistake, silence is a part of praying just as much as speaking is, so if you’re feeling down this Christmas, it may because the volume of your life is up way too high.
2. SOLITUDE: Holiday office parties, checkout lines at Target, impossible traffic and even worse parking options, combined with hordes of people getting into our ‘personal space’ in elevators, these blissful moments leading up to Christmas are prone to wanting to throw in the towel mid-season. The hustle and bustle of the season can be a bit much, to even the most patient saint
Jesus must have experienced the same draining effect, spending hours selflessly teaching and connecting with people. We see Him escape the wants and needs of the crowds to be alone with his Dad, our Heavenly Father.
In this same spirit, calling for a social ‘time out’ to go to a remote place, whether in your mind or at the park, to reconnect with God is another great way to make it through Christmas.
3. SCHEDULED: When we plan and protect our time(s) of prayer, anchor points are created throughout our day, week, month, or any time of choosing.
A driver in the Indy 500 plans to come into the pit stop on certain laps to refuel, get new tires, and give the car the maintenance it needs to ensure optimal performance. For the driver, these planned pit stops are not optional. It might be easy to think about the time that could be made if the pit stop was skipped, however, the driver knows that this would be foolish as it is almost inevitable that some type of failure on the track is certain without the scheduled pit stops. The pit stops provide a level of preparation that will eliminate errors on the track, where anything can happen.
Unpredictable situations, people, and feelings can be buffered with plans to pray. If there is a season known for throwing curve balls and surprises, it’s Christmas. The best way to remain unaffected by a holiday surprise is through planned and protected times of prayer. While this may be the most difficult type of prayer to weave into our lives, it is nonetheless critically important as it helps us develop a spiritual shield of armor to strengthen our souls during this time of folly and cheer.
Open up your calendar and make appointments to pray. Set up reminder notifications to ping you as a way to protect those times of prayer because it’s no secret, especially during Christmas, everything and everyone will be asking for your time. We need to understand that what we surrender our time to will also shape us and our days.
4. SELFLESS: As school started back up, I already started getting Christmas gift recommendations from my kids. During Christmas, we actually become oversized children who are simply focused on what we’re going to get for Christmas, right? We will say, “It’s better to give than to receive” with a straight face but if we’re being honest, we also think the stainless-steel Apple Watch on our wrist would just be the chef kiss to complete our look.
The dark underbelly of Christmas is how it gives license to make the season about ourselves while packaging it in candy canes and red bows. Could it be though that self-absorption, even if it’s gift wrapped, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be? Rock stars, who have the world at their feet, have sung about “getting no satisfaction.”
The crux of the Christmas story rests upon God giving a gift, his precious son Jesus, to us. We read of Jesus becoming human, for humans. When our prayers sound more like a list of Christmas gift recommendations, then we’re setting ourselves up for dissatisfaction as we completely miss the heart of Christmas, let alone Christ himself. What if we centered our prayers differently; praying for a neighbor, classmate, co-worker, or family member? Spend time praying for…an enemy?! Praying selflessly is how we can return back to the undiluted expression of Christmas
5. SCRIPTURE: In some of the more monastic expressions of our faith, folks have approached prayer incorporating a more introspective reading of Scripture. The practice is known as Lectio Divina, which literally means “divine reading”. In short, what practitioners do is read Scripture sloooowly. For example, in my scheduled time of prayer, I’ll slowly read the verse “For God so loved the world” once. I’ll pause, maybe even slow down my breathing, and let those seven words marinate. Think of being a sponge. Then, I’ll slowly read it again perhaps this time, paying special attention to the words “For God.” Soak. Meditate.
I might read the verse again, a third time, letting the words excavate questions and observations from deep within me and up to my lips, in the form of a prayer to God. Prayer dripping in Scripture. Something to try out this Christmas.
The above are different ways we can pray through the sometimes hectic and overwhelming Christmas season. The main thing to keep in mind as you try and pray in these different ways, is to remember the person of your prayers and the season itself; Jesus. When we center Jesus, Christmas will become more about the gift of Jesus and rather than all of the pretty things we try to wrap him up in.