Summer has some routine pleasures: Many people like to eat on the deck every night. Others go to the same campground or cabin summer after summer. Long days mean you can take your walk in the light early or late in the day.

I’ve always found routine itself a pleasure, up to a point. I like eating the same thing for breakfast and lunch. I spend a little time practicing my singing every day. It makes life simpler, and for me, more enjoyable. 

I developed a new routine during the pandemic—baking every week or two. I was part of a virtual baking group for 14 months. We all had the same recipe, then met weekly or bi-monthly via Zoom, mixed up our dough, let it rise, and then returned to Zoom to shape our dough and bake. It was inspiring to try new recipes like panettone and baguettes. I even found kneading bread in company with others via Zoom to be a meditative practice. 

Though we’re no longer meeting, I still have a routine of baking regularly. I keep it simple now and make the same sourdough bread every week. I get a lot of pleasure out of the baking and the bread. Now I eat toasted sourdough bread with something on it for lunch every day—a pleasurable new routine.

Much of the spiritual life involves routines: daily prayer, weekly worship, the seasons of the church year. The clock and calendar are marked by practices. Sometimes we are inspired by a spiritual retreat where we learn new practices and connect with others, just as I was inspired by my baking group.

There can be a lot of “should” in the spiritual life—I should pray more, go back to in-person worship, read the Bible more. What it would be like to make pleasure rather than duty one of the motives for spiritual practice? What spiritual activities do you enjoy, and can you do more of them? Can you make a routine of them?

 Here are a few spiritual practices I truly enjoy and have made routine:

  • -Meeting with my spiritual director. I look forward to our monthly sessions. He helps me look for signs of God’s presence in my life. He also has an ear tuned for obligation (I should) and helps me turn my sights toward what I truly want to do. He encourages me to lower my expectations of myself, and helps me take myself less seriously. That’s a pleasure.
  • Using an atlas to pray for the world daily. My young adult kids started playing “Worldle,” a geography variation of the word game “Wordle.” I got the idea to pray for one country of the world every day, using my atlas. It’s been a delight to pray for countries I know about and those I don’t know about. I’m on my second pass through the atlas now.
  • Gratitude. It’s almost a cliché now to make a practice of gratitude, but it shouldn’t be. In the morning I write down at least five things I’m grateful for from the day before. I get pleasure from noticing what is right in my life—literally, since my brain gets a dopamine hit.
  • Nighttime prayer before I lie down to read. I always resisted prayer at night since I found it hard to stay awake. It wasn’t a pleasure. But I always read for a few minutes before I go to sleep—a pleasure in itself. Now I have a card with an evening prayer by my bed. I say this prayer before I start my nighttime reading. It is a way to make prayer fit an already-pleasurable routine. 

What practice could you add to your routine that would give you more pleasure in your spiritual life?


Rev. Margaret Marcuson helps ministers do their work without wearing out or burning out, through ministry coaching, presentations and online resources.


Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash