The Power of the Pause
Anxiety,  Lifestyle,  Soul Care

The Power of the Pause

Recently I stumbled onto a phone app by John Eldredge and the Wild at Heart team called The One-Minute Pause. He has a workbook by the same name.

The phone version is audio and text, and it includes a one-minute, three-minute, two five-minute, and several ten-minute pauses. Each one leads a person through a few statements, prayers, and verses meant to restore the focus back to God, because in this world of noise and busyness, it’s easy to lose that focus.

I started to incorporate two pauses into my day 36 days ago. I haven’t missed a day. Sometimes I only do one, and sometimes I do more than two. Usually I do at least one ten-minute pause.

It’s easy to memorize large chunks of the pauses when you hear them daily. Most of them start with the simple prayer “I give everything to you, God.” Now, when I find myself giving way to overwhelm or anxiety or upset, I stop and say those words. I purposefully turn over to God what bothers me, what derails me, even what brings me joy. It’s all his. Let him help me to deal with all the aspects of my life.

A new rhythm

This post isn’t a commercial for the Wild at Heart phone app. It’s a commercial for the idea of routinely, intentionally stopping and putting Jesus back on the throne of my life where he belongs. Not that he ever really leaves—any control I think I have over my life is illusion—but I do better to work with Jesus than against him, and that’s why I stop and pause. I want to work with Jesus, and that means interacting with him on a regular basis.

Although not an auditory person—I can’t stand podcasts and read transcripts whenever possible–I have loved listening to the pauses and not reading them. I’m also using them as anxiety rescue, especially at night. If I wake up anxious, I let the pause app narrator lead me through one of the longer pauses until I settle. Sometimes it takes two pauses to calm me down. I think it’s the grounding of a human voice in the midst of an anxious episode. Jesus is with me, and while the voice from the phone isn’t Jesus, it helps me imagine his very real presence at my side.

A phone app isn’t required for a discipline of pauses. For some this isn’t feasible. Even for those of us who like it, this particular app includes a lot of repetition, and maybe you need more variety. Maybe you work in a situation where you can’t carry a phone, and you need your pause in the midst of your workday. Whatever the reason, I thought I’d come up with some other ways to incorporate an intentional, realigning pause into a day, more ways to add it to my rhythms. And if you think of others, I’d love for you to comment below.

Written pauses

Personally, I don’t like to journal. Maybe it’s because my vocation has everything to do with words. But for me, journaling isn’t usually an option. However, if you like to journal, short written pauses to speak with God throughout the day could benefit your soul. What would help you reconnect with Jesus during your day? Make a plan so you won’t simply stare at a blank page. Here are few ideas for pause prompts to write about:

  • What’s taking most of my mental space right now? How can I turn that over to Jesus?
  • What am I feeling right now? How can I invite Jesus into that?
  • What might I need to confess at this moment?
  • Do I have a few words of praise I’d like to share with Jesus right now?
  • Jesus, here are the cares I’d like to share with you…
  • Jesus, I simply need to feel you close. This is why…

Auditory pausing

Maybe you simply want to hear the Word more than once a day without someone else’s words and prompts. For those auditory souls, consider the Dwell app, which is a spoken Bible app. You can choose individual verses or passages to make playlists, so decide ahead of time what sorts of things you’d like to hear when you pause. Psalms? Praise? Something theologically meaty from Paul’s letters? Passages about Jesus from the Gospels?

If you want a little more variety, YouVersion is another Bible app where you can hear the Word read to you, or you can read it, or you can choose from about a zillion devotions, some text and many text and verbal. Very few of the devotions take more than five minutes to listen to or read. Pop a few on a playlist and work through those for your pauses. YouVersion will keep track of your devotions, which might be useful if you need help with accountability.

A few days ago I found Lectio 365, a morning and evening prayer app. Each day it has new morning and evening prayers, both written and spoken, about 8-12 minutes each. I’m only a few days in, but I think it will become another one of my staples. Hey, you can’t spend too much time with Jesus. I use the morning prayer either right before I get out of bed or right before my morning quiet time.

Internal pausing

Of course, you can simply pray from the heart for your pause. Maybe you can confess in a morning pause and give thanks in an afternoon pause. Maybe you want every pause to be spontaneous prayer. Or maybe something is weighing your heart down, and you bring it up every day until God helps you work through it.

You can also do some advance work and create pauses tailored to your needs. What would help you turn back to Jesus every day? Choose verses and write words and prayers that speak to specific needs in your life. Then bring them out for your pauses. Write one for a few days and then switch, or create a few and alternate. Put them on index cards. Speak them into a recorder and play them back at yourself. Type them into a phone app. Whatever makes them easy to access in the midst of your day.

Schedule it

Whatever you decide, I suggest committing to it for a set length of time. Set a timer on your phone or put it on your calendar every day. Start with two weeks or a month and then go from there. I’m on day 36 and going strong. In those 36 days I’ve paused 105 times for a total of 864 minutes (this particular app keeps track). This is on top of my regular quiet time, although on a few rough days I’ve let the pause be my quiet time. That’s simply a matter of personal preference. What’s funny is no pause ever feels as long as it is. Five minutes, ten minutes—they don’t feel as long as they sound.

Jesus longs to spend time with you. He wants to minister to your needs. He wants to fill you with his life, his peace, and his comfort. For me that happens when I take time to seek him, when I arrange my life and my priorities with Jesus at the center. A pause is a simple, uncomplicated way to regroup with Jesus and realign your heart and mind so you can continue your day.

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