As much as I write and discuss prayer and meditation on my website, I have come to realize that there is no substitute for experience. We can read hundreds of books on spirituality and prayer and we can fill our lives with thousands of pious thoughts, but until we set time aside for God, such information will always remain on the surface and fail to penetrate our hearts. I am convinced that everyone needs unscripted time in order to give the Holy Spirit an opportunity to work in their hearts.
By unscripted time, I mean that we should spend time each day in which we have no agenda, no to-do list of devotions and prayers, no expectations of what we should or should not do. Time in which nothing is off limits, and everything is brought to the Lord with complete surrender. Time in which we give ourselves to think and explore the endless possibilities of our lives, all in the loving presence of Jesus Christ.
I think couples should support each other in creating the opportunities for unscripted time. Although 20 minutes is a recommendation, I recognize that this can be difficult for parents with young children. However, in ways appropriate to each, unscripted time gives us the opportunity to bring our lives to the Lord with complete abandonment. We need time to unplug and “zone-out,” but instead of reaching for television and movies, we need to also develop habits of meditation which will give us the opportunity to hit the reset button.
So what do I recommend we do with our unscripted time?
That is a tricky question. First, we need to recognize that our unscripted time will not always be comfortable and easy. Sometimes the Holy Spirit has some serious work to do, and this will involve real suffering. However, as we open our hearts to this suffering, we will begin to see the fruits of the Holy Spirit permeate other aspects of our lives.
In addition, we also need to recognize that learning to navigate the silence of our unscripted time is a delicate art that takes practice and patience. Through experience and gentle guidance, we learn to see patterns of thinking, feeling, and desiring which pull us away from Christ. We also learn to see those inspirations which are the work of the Holy Spirit.
This gives space for the powerful process of transformation. In time, we will become less reactive and less likely to give into momentary impulses. Our interior life will begin to settle and breath the deep peace of the Spirit. This will give us the opportunity to live our lives in freedom, free from self-consciousness and fear. Instead of mental atrophy and acedia, we will possess that vitality that comes through Christ and the boundless spontaneity made possible through the Holy Spirit.
Today, let us commit ourselves to regular unscripted time. Let us make time for the Spirit to bring to light that which needs healing and those inspirations which will set our hearts on fire with Christ’s love.