Prayer and Rest

resting in hammock

So often, summer vacation becomes busier than any other part of the year. We’re trying to fit in trips and visits and host people visiting us. Or there’s the home improvement list and the extensive garden, church picnics, summer sports, etc.

This busyness is reason enough to practice prayer that helps us rest. Prayer we do sitting still. Meditation in a quiet place. Centering prayer during an unhurried time of day. I believe that even a day in which you sleep a lot can be prayerful in that you are allowing your body to restore itself. Can you set aside one day this summer to stay in bed? To have no appointments or commitments? It’s no surprise that so many people, when beginning a multiple-day prayer retreat, often spend the first day or two sleeping. Before they can pray, they need to rest so that they can be truly attentive to the prayer. Spiritual directors who work at retreat houses have just come to expect that opening days for prayer often involve good sleep.

Are you chronically tired? Are you chronically stressed? Perhaps you need a day or two for prayerful rest. For such a rest to happen, you may need to leave home. Then again, you may need to stay at home because travel logistics are just too expensive and time-consuming and stress-making.

Give yourself permission to pray by doing nothing. Sit in your backyard and soak up the breeze and sun—and do not make lists or write in a journal or try to “do” prayer. Sometimes being still is one of the most difficult prayers we can do. But, oh, do we need it.

  • What helps you rest, truly rest?
  • What gets in the way of rest that opens you to God?

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

About Vinita Hampton Wright 179 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.

7 Comments on Prayer and Rest

  1. After a sleepl(less) night, I need this permission to just rest. I always feel “I have to be saying something”. Perhaps now, the message will sink in.THANKS VINITA.

    • Keep giving yourself permission to listen to your body and rest when you need it. We would probably be surprised if we could discover how many of our daily problems are related to chronic fatigue. Peace!

  2. Since 2009 I sleep a lot the first 1 1/2 days during a retreat. At first I felt guilty doing so because I felt I needed to give God my full attention. It turns out rest and sleep is what I need to in order to have a prayerful retreat and I know God knows I need the rest also.

  3. I have practiced the art of rest for many years and it is automatic now to plan nothing on Sundays. What becomes of my Sundays are wonderful walks in the garden, contemplation and rest. It’s wonderful.

    • Becky, thanks for your example. I’m getting better at allowing Sundays to be restful rather than busy time. Your comment encourages me.

  4. My hammock is the MOST restful, prayerful place for me :-) When I need to rest I simply lie back, stare up into the trees and listen to the birds singing.

    • Same here! I tell my husband that the back-yard hammock is the best anniversary gift he ever gave me. I can truly relax when I’m in it. Thanks for posting!

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