St Teresa of Avila, St John of the Cross – and all great saints set aside Sacred Time and Sacred Space for prayer.
What is Sacred Time? For anyone interested in progressing in their spiritual life, it is necessary to set aside time for prayer, time that is sacred and non-negotiable. For me, morning prayer time is the first thing I do each morning (at 4:30 am) before getting ready for work. By getting up a little earlier in the morning, I’m not rushed, not tempted to check my emails, and have the least distractions in my day. My evening prayer, mental prayer, and spiritual reading and studies is normally from 7-9pm.
What is a Sacred Space? Sacred Space is a place set apart in your home and/or garden and used for nothing else but prayer, and includes: your favorite icons, candles, crucifix, and whatever draws your eyes and heart toward God.
From “Time for God’ by Jacque Philippe
“God is present everywhere, and we can pray anywhere at all: in our room, in an oratory, before the Blessed Sacrament, on a train or even in a supermarket checkout line. But obviously it is desireable to find a place that favors silence, recollection, and attention to God’s presence. The best place of all, when feasible, is a chapel with the Blessed Sacrament, especially if it is exposed, so that we can benefit from the grace of our Lord’s Real Presence’…‘When prayer becomes harder, resting one’s eyes on an icon or candle flame can lead us back to God’s presence’.
From “Into the Deep” by Dan Burke
“Jesus instructed his followers to pray in secret in their “inner room” (see Matthew 6:6). It is ideal to create a space dedicated to prayer and nothing else. You might think this is not feasible, but it only requires a few feet of space. You can use any suitable surface for a favorite icon, candle, or holy image; for example, a quiet, unused corner space with a small shelf. One person I know crawls into her closet under the hanging clothing to pray sitting on pillows (no candles allowed in there!). My first prayer space was a very simple combination of a windowsill, an icon, a candle, and a small bench. The entire space took up less than four square feet. Your space need not be large or complicated, just protected and set aside for your use during prayer. Be sure that your prayer space is peaceful and devoid of anything that might draw your attention or distract you (computers, phones, TV, iThings, etc.). This space may include special lighting, candles, or incense to create an atmosphere that fosters calm and peace and signals your mind, body, and soul—through your senses—that it is time to pray. The presence of icons and other visual aids for meditation helps make this signal very clear and effectual. Just as you set aside a special time for God, it is important to dedicate this special space to use just for your time with him. The effect over time is that you will enter this sacred space and will naturally be drawn to prayer. This is one of the least known but effective secrets of a profound prayer life. Building the habit of prayer includes the environment, and its overall effect will be to help you to pray.”
I have two prayer spaces – in my room and the backyard. My prayer space in my room is simple, and includes a Crucifix made of Jerusalem Stone surrounded by fragrant vanilla votive candles. The Silver Icon of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus is from West Bank, and a reminder of my Pilgrimage to Israel and walking in the footsteps of Jesus. A third-class relic of St Therese of Lisieux’s is for the Saint’s intercession. A stone from the Desert where Jesus was tempted by the devil, is a reminder that the evil one will do anything to attack our identity. I also include a few of my favorite prayer and spiritual books and a rosary.
All peacefully sitting beneath Kincaid’s “Sweetheart Cottage III”. I love nature and to ponder the Holy Trinity. This scenic mountain top view reminds me of my ‘Ascent’ to God, where I imagine myself sitting on the front steps in wander and awe of all that of God. During the seasons I will change it up to include a advent wreath, nativity scene, olive wood figures, or icons of favorite saints.
In my flower garden I have a garden statue of Our Lady of Grace where I can sit and meditate or pray the rosary. In this photo the sunlight graces the top of her head with a halo.
Do you have a Sacred Time set aside for Morning and Evening Prayer? For Mental Prayer? For Spiritual Reading? Do you have a Sacred Space? It’s not too late to start!