By Whitney Hopler, Crosswalk.com
Afternoons are often especially busy times. By the afternoon, you’re well into your day’s activities – and likely experiencing some stress and fatigue. Making time to ponder your blessings and pray in the afternoon is a powerful way to connect with the peace and renewal that God offers you. No matter what else is in your schedule, prayer can make it a good afternoon for you. Try these 7 good afternoon blessings and prayers (3 blessings and 4 prayers) to enjoy time with God in the afternoon.
3 Good Afternoon Blessings
You have the opportunity to be blessed every afternoon when you choose to connect with God, because simply tuning into God’s presence with you is a blessing. “Be still, and know that I am God…” God encourages you in Psalm 46:10. In the middle of your busy afternoon, you can discover many blessings as you focus on God’s ongoing presence. Here are 3 good afternoon blessings – afternoon activities to help you notice more of God’s work in your life:
1. Enjoy an afternoon walk. Even a brief afternoon walk can bless you with peace and renewed energy to get through the rest of your day well. Naturalist Henry David Thoreau, who said that “an early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day”, also took an afternoon walk regularly. “In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society,” he commented. In the afternoon, you can clear away the stress that has accumulated so far in your day by focusing on how God is with you, with every step you take. My book Wake Up to Wonder describes well-being research that shows the benefits of walking, and especially walking for the purpose of seeking inspiration from God – what I call “wonder walks”. God can use an afternoon walk in your life to change your perspective. A good afternoon walk can be tremendously helpful to transcend stress by noticing the awe-inspiring ways that God is at work around you.
2. Enjoy a good afternoon snack. When you renew your body with an afternoon snack, you can experience renewal in your soul, as well. The tradition of afternoon tea, in which people slow down to savor a refreshing beverage and an array of creative snack foods, is a good example of that. “Tea! Bless ordinary afternoon tea!” novelist Agatha Christie exclaimed. She often enjoyed afternoon tea and the inspiration it gave her for writing. If a coffee break or a non-caffeinated drink with your snack is more your style, enjoy that. Any nutritious refreshments can serve as good afternoon snacks. Saying a brief grace prayer before snacking can help you connect even more with the presence of God, who provides your daily bread and everything else you need.
3. Enjoy an afternoon daydream. Daydreaming is a popular afternoon pastime, and it can be a powerful way to use your God-given creativity to discover new insights. “The afternoon knows what the morning never suspected,” poet Robert Frost pointed out. Go ahead and let your mind wander for a bit during the afternoon. Ponder the thoughts in your mind and the emotions in your heart. Pray about them, seeking God’s guidance. Enjoy the fresh ideas that come to you while you daydream, and let them bless you with fresh motivation for the rest of your day and beyond.
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/Olezzo
4 Good Afternoon Prayers
Psalm 55:16-17 encourages praying throughout each day – including in the afternoon: “As for me, I call to God, and the Lord saves me. Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice.” God welcomes you to pray about everything at any time, and the afternoon is an especially good time to do so, because praying can give you the boost you need to get through the rest of your day well. You can personalize each of the following 4 prayers to have a good afternoon communicating with your Creator, who loves you completely.
1. A good afternoon gratitude prayer: “God, thank you for the gift of this day. I appreciate all the love in my life, and all the opportunities I have to do good work. As I pause to ponder the many blessings you’ve poured into my life, I’m filled with joy. Even the simplest things I enjoy – such as someone’s smile, a cup of tea, or golden afternoon sunlight – are profound because you make them possible. I’m in awe of you. Amen.”
2. A good afternoon peace prayer: “God, you know the stress I’m facing today and the concerns that are on my mind. Rather than worry, I’m praying instead, and trusting you to intervene in those situations. Please send me the peace that only you can give. Send your Holy Spirit to renew my mind, so I can think about my life from your perspective and make wise decisions. When my attention is pulled in many directions by all my responsibilities, lead me to stay focused and centered on you. Amen.”
3. A good afternoon help prayer: “God, as I go back into the busyness of my day, I offer all of my activities to you as an act of service. Please renew my energy while I work. Help me solve the problems I’m facing, and make good progress toward the goals I’m trying to achieve. Let your love flow through me into the lives of everyone I relate to for the rest of this day. Help me choose kind words and actions that encourage others and reveal your light shining through me toward them. Thank you for helping me with all I need for the rest of this day. Amen.”
4. A good afternoon inspiration prayer: “God, thank you for this time to reflect on my day so far. Please show me what you’d like me to learn from what has happened. Guide me to make the best choices moving forward today, and beyond. As I slow down to listen for your voice, please meet me where I am so I can hear your messages. Send me some inspiration this afternoon. I’m excited to hear from you. Amen.”
How Good Afternoon Blessings and Prayers Can Change Your Whole Day
Pausing in the middle of your afternoon to connect with God more deeply can change your whole day by shifting your perspective. Rather than being stressed and tired from your busyness, you can experience peace and renewal in God’s presence.
Blessings remind you to connect with God. In Wake Up to Wonder, I describe a super stressful afternoon in which my son reminded me to breathe. That simple reminder helped me connect with God in prayer using my breath. As I did so, stress blew away and peace settled on me. Breathing reminds us that absolutely everything – even the next breath we need to stay alive – is a blessing from God. By practicing afternoon activities that help you notice more of God’s presence with you – such as walking, snacking, and daydreaming – you can become more aware of the blessings that God is constantly pouring into your life. Your blessings include not just gifts you’re grateful for, but also the attitudes you’re developing as you grow spiritually. In Matthew 5, during his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus describes what the specific qualities of a blessed life look like. These qualities are known as the beatitudes: being poor in spirit, mourning, meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, showing mercy, pursuing purity, making peace, and doing what’s right even under pressure like persecution. Thinking about blessings from God’s perspective can help you see that anything in your life can become a blessing if you trust God to help you with it.
Prayers empower you to communicate with God. Throughout church history, some believers have traditionally prayed at specific times of the day, including in the afternoon. Feel free to develop prayer habits that work best for you, with the confidence that prayer works because God is always listening with care. When you talk to, and listen to, God in prayer, you can center yourself in the reality of God’s care for you – no matter what circumstances you’re dealing with in the afternoon. Praying in the afternoon helps you stay focused on your relationship with God, which is more important than anything else, because that relationship is eternal.
Former U.S. president and peace champion Jimmy Carter once said, “We should live our lives as though Christ were coming this afternoon.” Practicing afternoon blessings and prayers can help you focus on what matters most.
When you feel more stressed than blessed, make time for an afternoon break to enjoy God’s presence with you. Enjoying good afternoon blessings and prayers will lift your perspective beyond your circumstances toward the God who cares for you. As a result, you can experience the boost you need to go back into your busy afternoon with spiritual strength!
Photo Credit: Pexels/Katii Bishop
Whitney Hopler is the author of the Wake Up to Wonder book and the Wake Up to Wonder blog, which help people thrive through experiencing awe. She leads the communications work at George Mason University’s Center for the Advancement of Well-Being. Whitney has served as a writer, editor, and website developer for leading media organizations, including Crosswalk.com, The Salvation Army USA’s national publications, and Dotdash.com (where she produced a popular channel on angels and miracles). She has also written the young adult novel Dream Factory. Connect with Whitney on Twitter.