It's 10:30 am. I am standing at my job, having made it out of the house on time, maneuvered traffic successfully and found a fabulous parking space of which every person alive should be envious. I am afforded the luxury of a great view, and I am looking forward to a relatively peaceful day. Days such as these offer me time to consider life as a whole, and the components that contribute to that whole.

As a person of faith, I consider prayer to be one of those important components. I start my day with coffee and a devotional time that includes scriptures, prayer and journaling. The routine is companionable. Whatever else happens I have acknowledged God as a part of the day. I have honored the meaning of the words on the bronze plaque that hangs behind me on my kitchen wall: Bidden or not bidden God is present. Occasionally throughout the day I remember the gratitude I feel for my life and I thank God, or I chat with a friend who is in the muddle of a personal transition and I ask God to be present in a specific way with them. By the end of the day, God and I have shared a few moments on the run, but nothing like the time I would give a cherished friend.

Considering everything, I would like to spend more conscious time with God. And, considering everything, I need to ask myself what keeps me from following through on this desire. What keeps me from choosing this deeper communication with God in a way that makes sense in my life? Three reasons come to mind: time constraints, figuring out what shape I want this prayer communication to take and being honest with myself about why I want to connect with God more fully. If I am going to pursue this new project, what do I want to gain from the effort? From these reasons come three questions to answer for myself: When will I create this time with God to pray? How will I format this prayer time? And, why do I want to pray more?

Almost all of my friends are busy people with whom I quite literally have to set appointments to have consistent contact. It's not a bad arrangement, particularly with those who live out of town. We keep up with each others' lives, we are privy to the special details that create warm memories with which to play with one another for years to come. We are also more comfortable with the silences that weave themselves through the years, born of struggles or sorrows. Appointments are simple structures that liberate us from the fears of disassociation or loss that can so easily happen over time if relationships born of choice are not tended regularly.

I have come to the conclusion that as friendships must be framed in intentionality to be maintained and nurtured, so must my prayer life be with God. God isn't a long distance companion, but it's still nice to treat time with God with the same level of respect and delight that I treat phone conversations and visits with friends.

So, when will I pray? When will I set my appointments with God for regular visits? As busy as I am I know that I can consciously choose a specific time or times throughout the day to make time for prayer. I don't pretend that I can get up fifteen minutes earlier, but I can stay up fifteen minutes later. I also don't have to watch the “Frasierr” rerun every day at 5:30 PM. I could also spend my lunch hour with God, or at least part of it. God truly does know how much I love to have lunch with a good friend. I can make a choice to consider times I have already filled with other tasks or events and see how important they really are to me, compared with spending time with God in planned communication. Making a list of these appointments will help me know just how much time I intend to invest in continuing to develop my connection with God. I plan to continue the habit of two or three sentence “mini prayers” with God because nothing can replace those moments. But I also intend to carve out space, be it five, ten or thirty minutes a day to plan a conversation with God.

How do I plan a prayer visit with God? It feels as though format should be a big deal, and probably an equally large stumbling block to the whole process. But I suspect that God really isn't as adverse to lists and organization as we may have told ourselves. All the evidence in Genesis and nature points to God creating order out of chaos, and in what may have been record time, considering the detail work involved. My point is that making a plan ahead of the planned visit is just as liberating as planning the visit itself. The devotional time I mentioned earlier has been a planned part of my daily life for years, and I have missed this pleasure on very rare occasions over the years. It isn't everybody's plan, but it works for me because I chose it, and I continue to choose to make the appointment every day.

The same can be said for anything new in my schedule. If I choose the time, then map out with a list or some notes what I want to cover, it makes the meeting more tangible, and more likely I will follow through and show up. Not showing up by letting something else distract me doesn't work as easily when I've already planned to discuss my work, a relationship, a fear or a hope with God. God is always ready and willing, but I will be shortchanging myself if I am not completing my prep work and arriving on time.

The last question is general, but very pointed if taken seriously: Why do I want to pray more? It is as simply answered as desiring to spend more time with God, beyond the belief that God is always hanging around anyway. God is always present, bidden or not bidden, but am I? My grandmother, who died before I was born, left a simple legacy in these words: Whether you know it or not, you live by what you believe. I am also reminded of a “Will and Grace” episode in which Grace is terrified she and Will might drift apart because there are no legal contracts or cultural conventions to hold them together. Will, sitting at the piano, starts to sing the old Captain and Tenillle hit, “Love Will Keep Us Together.”

And there is the truth of the matter. I would like the relationship God has promised to me to continue to deepen and become more creative and alive. I would like how I live to reflect my belief in God as a loving Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer. I would like those around me to recognize that I welcome God into my life, that how I talk about God reflects that I actually talk with God. I'd like not to be seen as name dropper as much as a person who enjoys sharing stories about a trusted friend. I want to do my part to express the belief that I love God, as well as believing that God loves me.

There are probably many reasons you have not chosen to make time for a broader prayer time in you life. I know for myself that i have used time constraints, figuring out what to say or how to say it, and my personal motivations at any given time in my life as reasons not to create more planned prayer time with God. If you are at a point in your life at which you would like to reshape your communication with God I invite you to ponder these questions as I have: When will you make time for intentional prayer? How will you format that time? Why do I want to pray now? What is the goal I envision as I plan to communicate more regularly, more fully with God?

Author's Bio: 

The Rev. Cory L. Kemp, a graduate of the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay with a double major in Communication and the Arts and Social Change and Development and a minor in Women's Studies, was ordained into the ministry of the Moravian Church in North America after completing her Master of Divinity degree studies through Moravian Theological Seminary. Over twenty-five years of experience in individual and community ministries gives Rev. Kemp an informed perception about faith, its implications and struggles in everyday life. Rev. Kemp focuses her work on helping people understand their faith and how faith can become transformational in their lives. Bring authentic, meaningful faith into your daily life by visiting