An inspiring and encouraging guest post from copywriter, Dawn Dicker.
When Donita Bundy posted about how the intimacy of spending time alone with God “evaporated as soon as I stepped back into the slipstream of life,” she nailed my problem. Scripture memorization, daily declarations, prayers to better share God’s love—all melted away in the pressures of the day.
Donita spoke of “timeout” with God and invited us to reflect on what worked for us. That made me think: Had I had overlooked something?
Influenced by “timeout,” in that honest moment I thought of taking 30 seconds each hour to remember God.
As an ad copywriter, I admire the power of brevity:
- “Just do it” inspires us to stop procrastinating and start exercising.
- “Keep calm and carry on” strengthened a nation’s stance against Nazis.
- Jesus condensed the Law into loving Him first and our neighbors as ourselves (Luke 10:27).
We all know of self-improvement coaches who advocate devoting 2 minutes to jump-start a new habit, of contemplatives who find peace in praying on the hour, and of masters of meditation who slow life’s rush with 12-second breaths.
Praying on the hour had seemed impractical before. But maybe spending just 30 seconds every hour would work. Maybe not. I posted the idea in the comments and forgot about it.
Meeting of the Minds
When we Zoomed into the next Gracewriters meeting, I told Donita I’d enjoyed her post. Then Belinda Pollard suggested adding deep breaths. Someone mentioned “breath prayers,” which hinted at “rejoice and pray always” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-17). And Belinda, Donita and I decided to try the 30-second experiment during working hours the next week.
The combination of like-minded people affirming the concept, the idea of pairing breathing with a “praise always” focus, and the energy of embarking on a project together elevated the idea from “maybe not” to “why not?”
Tweaks and Tries
I wasn’t always successful at getting in 30 seconds each hour that week, or the next. But steadily I’m attaining greater awareness of God’s presence in the everyday. Here’s what helped:
Community. In a busy day of meetings, it wasn’t always practical to stop for 30 seconds each hour—so on my own, I would have given up by Tuesday. But we were in it together. I had to keep trying, even if tweaking was needed—which took me to the next principle.
Adaptability. So maybe 30 seconds each working hour wasn’t practical, but I could do something every hour. I found 20 seconds worked better than 30—happily, the time it takes (you saw this coming) to wash your hands … a way to refresh spirit and body at once.
Creativity. All these mini-sessions encouraged me to think of new ways to praise, giving my mind a playful break to craft haiku-like creations on the fly. And there’s the prayer-breath Donita shared as we discussed the results of our one-week experiment—a fast track to change: “YOU in … me out.”
Serenity. I found that even in a WebEx meeting where there was only time for a “Praise You, thank You” on the inbreath, it reminded me of the mission Luke 27:10 implies: follow Him, respect them, and work for mutual benefit.
These small successes encouraged me to prioritize tactics where rewards are reaped in moments, not months. I found that investing 2 minutes does help jump-start progress. Belinda (and countless others) are right about the calming effects of slow breathing. And in the time it takes to breathe in, you can make choices that improve any outcome.
So if you’re looking for spiritual progress during this coronavirus season, you can start with your own “timeout.” If the idea inspires, why not try it? We all want change. And we can all begin now, with our next breath.
Dawn Dicker is a writer and strategist working at the intersection of art and commerce in Washington, DC. She enjoys good stories, sky time with her husband on scenic trails, and exchanging ideas about matters that matter.