Last week, I shared that one of the biggest obstacles for me in the early days of my faith journey was the lack of a prayer life. I knew I needed to pray, but I couldn’t ever remember sincerely praying about anything. I shared the steps, lessons, and insights I have learned in my own prayer journey. This week, I would like to share some insights into exactly how I pray in the hope that this might offer practical ideas for your own prayer lives:
When I am in a quiet place. . .
Upon waking in the morning before the rest of my family I pray the Morning Offering to start the day. After coffee and a little spiritual reading I pray about what I have read and about the challenges facing me that day or the special intentions of a friend or loved one. My family prays together every night and we are trying to introduce a family Rosary. I pray in Mass to be worthy to receive the gift of the Eucharist, and I pray a prayer of thanksgiving for this wonderful gift after I receive communion. I go to Eucharistic Adoration when I am able.
When I am engaged in my work day. . .
I try to go to daily Mass at my parish or another parish near my office when I can, but I hope to do a better job of this in the future as my day is always better after receiving Communion. An important part of my daily prayer is the daily examen, developed by the Jesuits. I place this on my iPhone calendar and am reminded five times a day to stop for a few minutes and reflect on the events and people around me and then pray. Each stopping point has a specific purpose and you can learn more about this helpful prayer exercise here. Also, I pray a blessing over my meal and invite my companions to join me.
When I am on the go. . .
I have found replacing radio time with prayer time to and from work has been a huge help to my sanity! I often pray the Angelus and other prayers when I am in my car. This may seem strange, but I prefer to pray my Rosary when I am walking the trails near my home or on the treadmill. I love the idea of integrating an important prayer with an important activity. Those on the go may also find Masstimes.org to be very helpful in finding the nearest churches for Mass and visits to the Blessed Sacrament.
Food for thought. . .
Praying more can seem overwhelming if you are busy like me, but if you add up all the praying I just shared, it is well over an hour a day. It helps me to break it down this way, and I can’t stress enough the importance of putting your prayer life on your calendar. As I said before, if it is not scheduled it will not happen. Also, don’t let my encouragement of a prayer routine ever discourage you from spontaneous prayer as situations warrant it.
I certainly don’t have all the answers and I am no expert on prayer. I simply want to share with you as someone who struggles with similar challenges that my prayer life and my faith journey have grown together. Honestly, I didn’t have any kind of prayer life before 2005 and now I couldn’t imagine living a life without one. To me, prayer is anytime that I turn my attention to God and away from myself. It can be accomplished in a variety of ways and acts. Remember that feeling worthy or inspired is not a great barometer for measuring the value of our prayer life. Praying for the desire for prayer is worthwhile and a good start.
My friends, prayer is the key! If we are faithfully praying each day we are less likely to fall under the world’s spell. It’s not as difficult as we might think. Start the day with prayer. Before we check email or read the morning paper, offer the day and our burdens up to God, thank Him and ask for His forgiveness, help, and blessing. Integrate prayer into our daily commute and exercise time. Pray the daily examen throughout the day. Pray for the courage to resist the temptations and distractions the world offers us each day. Be mindful that we should make our days conform to our prayer lives and not the other way around. Plan it and it will happen.
I always know how much better I feel after I pray. We can’t remain apathetic about Christ and His Church if we are conversing with Him in prayer each day. Many of the spiritually indifferent Catholics I have encountered are struggling in their prayer lives, and yet turning our thoughts to Him in prayer, thanking Him, and asking for His help can be so easy if we will only surrender our pride and acknowledge that we can’t do it alone.
One last thing. If we want to raise children with vibrant prayer lives who will remain faithful to Christ and His Church, they need to see mothers and fathers on their knees in prayer.