Prayer is something we want, but it can be hard to form into a habit. Today, Sarah Damm shares how she got out of her prayer rut with the help of a ministry called Give Him 5.
It’s 5 a.m., and my alarm goes off. Time to begin a new day. I slowly crawl out of my warm blankets and notice a chill in the air. A shower and cup of coffee get me going, before I wake up my children for school. They get dressed and head downstairs to breakfast, where we have just enough time to make small talk before heading out the door. After last-minute reminders to brush teeth, comb hair, and grab lunch boxes, we are off!
One task after another, my day is filled with activities very similar to other moms: morning routines, meal preparation, errands, exercise, and homework help. But for months, something was missing in my busy day. Something more important than anything on my to-do list, and that was prayer.
Yes, for months, my prayer life was nearly non-existent. Even though I knew better than to distance myself so much from God, I felt like I didn’t know how to begin again. I was frustrated that I couldn't find the right time to spend with God: the mornings were too busy and I was too tired at night. I thought that if prayer couldn't be at the right time and for so long, it might as well not be at all. When I had a rare moment to converse with the Lord, it was usually dry. So, I started resisting even small attempts to say hello to God.
How did this happen? How could I let this happen? Me: a woman who loves the Catholic faith, is in awe of the saints, receives the sacraments regularly and strives to infuse the faith into her family life. Why was the most essential part of faith so difficult? I felt hopeless and sad, because at the heart of the matter was that my relationship, my friendship, with God was suffering. And I missed Him.
After months of silently struggling with prayer, I found a solution through one woman’s desire to help people just like me.
Michelle Gelineau founded Give Him 5™ to encourage people to pray and grow in their friendship with Jesus. It is a simple approach that involves taking five minutes of prayer every day.
“In those five minutes, it is important to talk with Jesus as a friend,” said Michelle.
As Michelle shared with me how Give Him 5 works and some of the prayer aids that she offers through her website, I was overwhelmed with a sense that Jesus was speaking to me through her, saying, “Do this, Sarah! This will help you return to Me.”
The next day, I opened the Give Him 5 Prayer Bag that I purchased through Michelle. The bag includes a five-minute sand timer, pocket cross, and other prayer prompts. I took my five minutes of prayer using the timer, following the simple steps, while enjoying some warm coffee in my new Give Him 5 mug.
I repeated this every day, and after three weeks, I realized that often when the five minutes were up on the timer, I was still enjoying my time with the Lord. I was praying again!
Many days, my prayer continues well past my little timer. When I have busy mornings and I really only have five minutes for prayer, my former all-or-nothing attitude tries to take over. But I resist, spend my five minutes in prayer, and trust that God will bless even those few moments and extend His grace to the rest of my day.
This little prayer kit got me out of my rut. It helped me realize that spending a few, quality minutes with God is better than nothing. And it aided me in rekindling a deeper relationship with the Lord.
How It Started
Back in 2011, Michelle lead music for her parish’s VBS. Each day, groups of children came to her for one of their sessions. She asked God what she should share with the kids, and He encouraged her to talk to them about prayer.
She came up with a challenge for them: to spend five minutes in prayer every day and then report back to her what happened during their five minutes. The kids loved it! And so did the parents, who shared with Michelle all of the ways their children were taking their five minutes to pray: at home, in the car, anywhere they could.
The response was so positive that Michelle felt like she needed to do more.
She prayed, asked for feedback from friends and recruited her family to assist her. Within weeks, she had the Give Him 5 theme and logo, as well as the concept of the prayer bag. She set up a simple Web site and blog with the help of a friend.
“I’m a nurse practitioner,” Michelle said. “I don’t know anything about business or legal stuff.” But with each step of setting up a business, “God put someone in my life to help me.”
At one point, her husband asked her if she hoped to make a million dollars. And she responded, “No, I’m hoping to bring a million souls to Christ.”
She started selling the bags, mainly to families from her parish who had experienced Give Him 5 with their children. They bought them for their own families but also for extended relatives and friends.
In 2012, she used the idea again at VBS, and another parish ordered Give Him 5 prayer bags for their summer program.
In 2013, despite the positive response she was receiving, she realized that people were still struggling with prayer. They didn’t know what to “do” during their five minutes. So, she designed a coffee mug that taught people how to pray.
How It Works
The Give Him 5 prayer bag provides everything you need to begin a regular, consistent prayer routine in your life. The sand timer is a visual that allows you to see that your prayer time is an intentional part of your day, set aside for God. A small card gives you five steps to Give Him 5: find a quiet place, clear your mind, picture Jesus next to you, set your timer, focus on the Lord. It also gives you ideas on what to do during your prayer time. Ideas include singing a song, reading the Bible, telling Jesus about your day, or thanking and praising Him.
For those who need some additional guidance in starting a daily prayer time, or for those who simply like a warm cup of coffee during their conversation with God, the Give Him 5 mug is the perfect companion. It encourages us to pray with FAITH: FIND a quiet place, ASK Jesus to be with you, Tell Him what’s IMPORTANT to you, THANK Him for your blessings, Ask for His HELP in your life.
How It Can Change Your Life
In the movie Gravity, there is a scene in which Dr. Ryan Stone, played by Sandra Bullock says, “I’ve never prayed ... Nobody has taught me how.”
Michelle thought this scene was relatable to many people. We have a desire to pray, but we don’t necessarily know what to do. Michelle’s entire Give Him 5 ministry is intended to help us learn to pray and get us in the routine of spending time with God every day.
For those who find prayer overwhelming or difficult, Michelle encourages them not to worry.
“Don’t make it a big thing,” she said. “He [God] doesn’t expect anything from you. Just be present to Him.”
She continues, “Go some place quiet. Just think about Jesus and how much He loves you. Tell Him what’s on your heart. He already knows, but there is something powerful about speaking it out loud. Speak as if He’s right there, because He is.”
“You are so special to Him,” Michelle said. “He knows your voice. He can decipher it from all the others.”
For more information about Give Him 5, visit Michelle’s website. She also is on Facebook. At both places, she regularly posts encouraging messages about prayer.
Copyright 2014, Sarah Damm
EDITOR'S NOTE (Feb. 2021): We recently learned that Michelle has passed away, and her daughter is offering the Give Him 5 book in her Etsy shop. The original website's domain has expired and we have removed those links. If you're interested in the book, visit Etsy to purchase a copy. In your kindness, pray that perpetual light will shine upon Michelle and that her family will be comforted.