Put the brakes on your frantic thoughts, notice what’s around you—and pray.
Can simply paying attention in the moment be a form of prayer? Can a person pray by noticing things? Can simply slowing down and observing your surroundings be a way to connect with God?
I think so.
After all, Jesus said, "Look at the birds of the air" (Matthew 6:26, NIV) and "Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow" (Matthew 6:28, KJV). He encouraged His followers to be observant and by doing so to draw more trustful and restful in the Father’s care.
King David sang, "Consider the blameless, observe the upright; a future awaits those who seek peace" (Psalm 37:37, NIV). A person who practices those words may make a prayer of them, watching and noticing those whose lives encourage hope and optimism.
Judging from her poem, “Sometimes,” the American poet Mary Oliver would seem to agree. She wrote:
Instructions for living a life:
Tell about it.
--Mary Oliver, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, (Penguin Press 2017)
The pace of modern life, at least for many of us, may make it more difficult to pray the prayer of paying attention, but maybe that makes it all the more worthwhile, more precious. When you stop to notice a child splashing in a fountain, let your attention turn into a prayer for that child or children in general.
When you’re stuck in traffic and a bird flits across your field of vision, let that moment be a prayer of gratitude and praise for “the birds of the air.” When you slow down just enough in the course of a busy day to notice the smell of coffee or the warmth of sunshine on your face, turn your heart toward God, if only for a second.
Let the ordinary and the sublime penetrate your frantic pace and your cluttered mind, and pray the prayer of attention.