Creating a Home Sanctuary
Advice on making time and space for God during isolation by Revd. Alex Holmes
A space for Prayer
Creating a prayer space at home is always a good thing, but particularly while we can’t meet together to pray and worship. Having a designated space for prayer, quiet, solitude, silence, and listening within our home allows us to hear God’s voice in our life more clearly. We all pray differently and find different things help us to focus on prayer, so here are just a few pointers of things it’s worth considering when creating a prayer space.
Who is it for?
Is it just for you, or for a couple, or for a whole family? This will have some influence on the next question to consider:
Pause and think about whether there is somewhere that you feel is ‘right’ for a prayer station? A particular room or chair? A bench with a view maybe? Or perhaps you could create a prayer space box (including some of the suggestions below), which is portable? You need to be comfortable ( but not so comfy you fall asleep!).
What to include?
It is usually helpful to have a focus for prayer. At its most simple it might include just one item such as a cross, bible, icon, candle, religious statue, rosary, or prayer card, but often a combination of these things works, as well as having something from nature there to contemplate like pebbles/cones/feathers or a photo of a favourite place. Think about having the ability to play some form of meditative music too.
If you want it to be a more interactive space you could put a bowl or basket there as well as pens/crayon/paper or the inevitable post-it notes! I always find having a journal nearby helps too.
What is important is creating the space, but in making that space you can get as creative as you like – either indoors or outdoors. It would be good to hear some of your ideas/see some pictures.
Ways to enter into prayer
When praying at home, whether or not you have created your own prayer space, it is good practice to intentionally dedicate the time to God through the use of a short prayer – maybe even just a sentence. Something like:
Lord, I offer my silence to you today, knowing that in the stillness I most easily hear your voice. Amen.
Lord Christ, Alpha and Omega, may my life centre on you and be fulfilled in you. Amen.
Or even: Dear Lord, I really don’t feel like praying today; but I’ll give it a go.
After dedicating the time to God, the next step is to quieten yourself for prayer. There are all sorts of different ways of doing this. These ideas are all taken from an Ignatian retreat guide - you could try:
Awareness of breathing
Become aware of your breathing …Try not to alter its speed or depth …simply notice… Focus on each breath passing in and out ...
Feel the air as it flows through your nostrils …giving you life … Turn your attention to the gift of each breath, and God who delights in giving you being.
Breathe in God’s life … God’s love for you …
Breathe out all that separates you from that love …
You may wish to use a word or phrase to link with your breathing, e.g. come, Holy Spirit…
Using an object
Hold an object: a stone, leaf, cross, anything you like. Weigh it, feel it, look at it. It is a part of creation and loved by God.
In Psalm 46 there is the line: “Be still and know that I am God.” It is an invitation to let go of physical and mental activity and to trust deeply in God.
Be still and know that I am God . . . Be still and know . . . Be still . . . Be . . . Be . . . Be still . . . Be still and know . . . Be still and know that I am God
The Jesus Prayer
This is one of the most famous mantras. Listen to each phrase in your head and then add your voice to it . . .
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner . . . Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, Have mercy on me, a sinner. . . "
Continue on your own with this. The phrase may shorten naturally.
I’m in the process of creating a whole series of resources for helping people to pray at home. In future weeks we’ll think more about different styles of prayer you could try.