Five Ways to Create a Good Space for Prayer

5 Ways to Create a Good Space for Prayer - words next to summer patio overlooking water

Taking inventory of the various spaces in your life probably gave you some ideas—it may have inspired you, which is good, because now you’re going to create some space just for prayer.

Here are five basic steps to help you start. I’m sure that by the time you’re at step 3, you’ll have generated various additional steps that work for you.

Step 1: Choose indoors or outdoors.

If you’re like me and many other people, being outdoors is refreshing and helps you relax—when the space is the right kind of outdoors. Or for you an outdoor setting might be too distracting when you want to pray, and so your first choice is indoors. You may have good outdoor options, but you may not. Also, you might have a porch space that brings together indoors and outdoors in a nice combination.

Step 2: Choose sound or silence.

It is so rare nowadays to have access to places that are completely silent that I use the term loosely here. Pay attention to how music helps or hinders your prayer. Does the sound of running water or birdsong enhance the experience? Even if you can’t have the real thing, there are various recordings of nature sounds that can fill in pretty well. And does your prayer include singing, chanting, humming, or spoken prayer? Most of us won’t do the same thing every time; maybe one day I chant a psalm, but the next day I concentrate on silence and self-emptying.

Step 3: Choose meaningful objects.

Is there a bench or chair in your backyard that makes an excellent prayer seat? Do you light a candle and place icons or other visual cues nearby, which can turn a standard workspace into a prayer space? Do you wrap yourself in a prayer shawl, finger rosary beads, or use any other objects such as stones, shells, or flowers?

Step 4: Don’t neglect your sense of smell.

Lavender, jasmine, and honeysuckle do wonderful things for me. Partly it’s the fragrance and partly it’s emotional connection—I grew up with honeysuckle vines all over our backyard, and jasmine takes me back to the house I lived in long ago in the Middle East. An aroma can stimulate or relax the human body. If you haven’t worked with fragrances, give it a try. There are reasons other than theology that worship spaces through the centuries have involved incense.

Step 5: Choose a time of day and the type of light.

My prayer place at home changes with the seasons because of how I react to natural lighting and the length of the days. I tend to use candles in wintertime but time my prayer for early morning light in the summer. Pay attention to how your body and mind respond to different kinds of lighting.

What would you add to these ideas about creating prayer space?


This post is part of a series: Praying Through the Summer.

About Vinita Hampton Wright 87 Articles
Vinita Hampton Wright has served as senior editor at Loyola Press for 16 years and recently became managing editor of the trade books department. She has written various fiction and non-fiction books, including the novel Dwelling Places with HarperOne, Days of Deepening Friendship and The Art of Spiritual Writing for Loyola Press, and most recently, The St. Teresa of Avila Prayer Book for Paraclete Press. Vinita is a student and practitioner of Ignatian spirituality, and from 2009 to 2015 she blogged at Days of Deepening Friendship. For the past few years, she has co-led small groups through the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises. She lives in Chicago with her husband, three cats, and a dog. In her “spare” time these days, she is working on her next novel.

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