How one to three minutes can focus our minds and hearts on adoration, confession, thanksgiving and supplication. (image, Centreville United Methodist Church)
My wife is a professional counselor and a good one. Her workdays are divided into listening to and helping many different people, 55 minutes at a time. She has often said she’d like to have a 50- or 55-minute hourglass for her counseling sessions. It would be not only a helpful way to keep track of time but also a focusing and soothing influence on both counselor and counselee! So this past fall I ordered her a custom hourglass to give to her as a Christmas gift.
That got me thinking, which is always a risky proposition. Hourglasses come in all shapes and sizes. We even have several one-minute and three-minute versions in our home already, packed in various board games and group game boxes. So why not put them to even better use—in prayer?
So, new year, new things. I plan to try it.
For example, I can follow the ACTS pattern using the three-minute timer for each type of prayer:
- Adoration and praise
- Supplication (asking in earnest) and intercession (praying for others)
I might use the one-minute hourglass to focus my prayers on family: a minute of intercession for my wife, children and grandchildren.
Something else I might try: using the one minute timer for “lightning round” prayers, like game shows sometimes do, particularly in the middle of the day. So even when I have only a few minutes to pray, the hourglass can help focus my thoughts and prayers.
I bet the hourglass can even help me practice silence. I can use one of them to focus my thoughts at the beginning of my prayer time, watching the grains of sand flow silently downward. Or let the sand be a benediction of sorts to conclude a period of prayer. And on those occasions when I am hurried or stressed, maybe I can let the hourglass calm me for a minute. . . or three.