As she planned family schedules for the new school year, Rachel Watkins noticed that she was neglecting to make time for her prayer life.
One of my favorite books I’ve read to my children is Five Minutes' Peace by Jill Murphy. Mrs. Large, mother to three energetic children finds it almost impossible to get ready for her upcoming date night with her husband. The children interrupt her bath, make getting dressed impossible, and more. When my own house was filled with small ones, her insistence that all she wanted was “five minutes' peace from all of you!” rang true. With every reading, my little ones would laugh with familiarity at the hijinks illustrated (did I mentioned they are a family of elephants?) But, now with my youngest now 15, I can get out with my husband quickly—and usually without any notice from my children at all.
But I realized recently that I was not giving myself even five minutes' peace in a way I really needed it, and it had nothing to do with my children—but with myself. During a recent examination of conscience, I came to admit it had been weeks since I had gone off by myself to pray. Despite often making it to daily Mass (another blessing of having older children), a Rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet prayed while being the family chauffeur, and our commitment to evening family prayer with anyone in the house around 8:00 PM, I was not taking myself to a lonely place to pray as Jesus often did (mentioned in every Gospel and more than once). Yikes!
With the aforementioned older children, time for Mass and more, what was keeping me from just sitting down and spending with Jesus in prayer, for even five minutes? It wasn’t because I hadn’t in the past, and it wasn’t because I didn’t know how to sit with God. I had merely let a good habit fall to the wayside. Let’s call it what it is: apathy, indifference, sloth, laziness, comfort and on and on. I wasn’t giving God any alone time with me because I didn’t want to! Yikes, again!
Having been convicted that while Jesus loved my other prayer efforts, He loved time with me alone the most. I needed to make some changes, and fast. With the start of a new school year, as I work on the planners for my last two homeschooled kids, I am making sure our day includes scheduled time for all of us to "be still and know that God is God" (Ps. 46:10).
For just as Jesus went off by Himself, He tells us,
“When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” (Matthew 6:6)
Now to be clear, the inner room just might be an actual prayer room or space. However, many of us don’t have house space for something like that. But God knows this and has given all of us the perfect inner room: our minds and our souls. We just need to put down our phones, turn off the TV, walk away from earthly distractions, and let Him enter into what He himself has created.
Depending on your current circumstances and family life, isn’t there some way to give God even five minutes' peace with you? In looking back for myself, I remember moments I went on walk by myself after my husband came home from work. There were times when I put in a favorite movie for the kids and I took a seat in my favorite chair with an open journal. My car waiting for one of my kids' sports practice to be done was a favorite inner room I had forgotten I had. Can you let you inner room show up during a long line of traffic or a doctor’s waiting room?
With the increased busyness of the new school year, making sure you have time alone with the One who loves you most is more important than ever. Spending time alone with Him gives us the strength to face whatever is outside the door of our inner room. Be convicted by the Scriptures! Exodus 14:14 tells us quite bluntly, “The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still.”
Be still before the LORD; wait for him. Do not be provoked by the prosperous, nor by malicious schemers. (Psalm 37:7)
Ask God to reveal to you where and how your five minutes' peace might be able to be found, as He is just waiting to spend it with you.
Copyright 2022 Rachel Watkins
About the Author
Wife of Matt for 36 years and mom to 11, Rachel is the creator/developer of The Little Flowers Girls' Club. She is a weekly contributor to Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak's radio program, More2Life on EWTN radio. She has also been a homeschooler for over 25 years and has dealt with multiple sclerosis as a chronic illness for a bit longer.