Most people I know are convinced that prayer should be a regular part of their lives, and most people I know are also convinced that they don’t pray as often as they should. I include myself among most people I know. I find it is easy to forget that prayer is more than just a part of our relationship with God; rather, prayer is our relationship with God (you can thank Mark Hart that quote!).
My good friend Paula recently shared with me a revolutionary way to approach prayer which is working – and has created quite a following – where she teaches and does campus ministry at Marquette Catholic High School in Alton, IL.
She has taught her students how to take “holy naps” – spiritual exercises where students put down their heads, close their eyes, and rest in the presence of the Lord. She starts off with small amounts of time (just 30 seconds), but works up to five minutes of holy naptime with all of her religion classes. During their holy naps, students are invited to either speak to Jesus in their hearts or listen to Jesus speaking in their hearts. The concept is based upon the Jesus’ ever-relevant words from Matthew’s gospel, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Holy naps are so popular and appreciated by Paula’s students that they beg for them. Recently, there was an outcry from her students for a holy nap at the end of an all-school assembly, and she indulged them. Believe it or not, 325 students and faculty members bowed their heads and closed their eyes for an entire two minutes of quiet prayer time with Jesus. You could have heard a pin drop in the Marquette High School gym.
It can be difficult to find ways to be quiet in this loud & crazy world of ours, but we all need quiet time. Holy naps are a simple way to respond to the admonition in Scripture to “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Business experts say it’s all about marketing. I think they are on to something…and so is Paula. The fact that she is calling high school students to prayer is nothing new. Others would call what she is promoting ‘contemplative prayer’ or ‘quiet time’ or ‘meditation’ – but there’s something about calling it a holy nap that appeals to her students, and makes them want to pray more. I also have a feeling that students will remember the concept of a ‘holy nap’ for the rest of their lives and share it with countless others.
Are you feeling labored or burdened? Do you need a holy nap? And would you be willing to teach someone you love (or a group you love) about this unique & appealing way of approaching prayer?
Jesus promises to give us rest… but only if we come to Him. So, come. Your holy naptime is waiting.