We all have several excuses when it comes to why we give up on developing a stronger prayer life. One is that we compare ourselves with some "ideal" - either someone else's seemingly picture-perfect life (as written in a book or blog), or something we create in our own minds. No matter how hard you try, you can't make an ideal happen; you have to be okay with doing what works for you.
Another excuse is that it is hard (impossible) to be consistent with doing the exact same prayers every day, and when you miss a day, you can easily fall into missing it again and again. Once you fall off the wagon, you've failed, and it's hard to get back on.
A third excuse is that prayer can sometimes start to feel too ritualistic, too rote, and can become empty. We must embrace the rituals of these prayers and find the life in them! It is through the rituals of our faith that we have life. Don't stop if prayer feels empty; keep going and the life will come back.
It doesn't seem possible to "pray without ceasing," but we can find ways to incorporate it throughout our day. Every little bit counts, whether it's a quick prayer at a red light or while making scrambled eggs. Here are some ways you might want to try incorporating more prayer into your day:
- Try attending daily Mass once a week, perhaps on a Saturday so you can go alone or attending a school Mass so that bringing little children seems less intimidating.
- Stop in Adoration for 15 minutes; it doesn't have to be an hour. There are two local perpetual adoration chapels, and many parishes have a weekly or monthly day of adoration in the church.
- Pray at red lights - for patience!
- Pray when cooking, to better serve as Mary did.
- Pray before and after appointments, especially to help with anxiety.
- Pray before/during a confrontation or disagreement. Pray for the right words or for the ability to leave the conversation.
- Pray short, simple prayers you make up with your family (to start your day, before meals, in the car, before bed).
- Memorize prayers as a family; they will pick up on them quickly if you start saying them regularly.
- Pray the St. Michael prayer when being attacked for our beliefs or need protection.
- Repeat words or phrases, "mantras," that help calm and center you when longer prayers aren't an option. For example, "Prayer, patience, and perseverance," or simply, "Strength."
- When you get a prayer request through email or Facebook, stop and pray right at that moment. It only takes a few seconds.
- Gradually build up to a whole family rosary, or do a rosary with other families/children.
- Don't forget that many spiritual songs are actually prayers. Sing at home, in the car, and during Mass. Don't worry about how good of a singer you are; it is an act of worship.
- Several iphone apps, such as Laudete, have the rosary, daily readings and reflections, and other prayers. Some offer reminders to pray a novena prayer daily.
- Set the alarm clock on your cell phone for 3pm (or a time that works for you) and offer a quick prayer every day at that time.
- Listen to podcasts or watch You Tube videos of prayers, readings, reflections, and songs.
- Magnificat magazine has daily prayers and readings, and an app if you subscribe.
- There are usually free booklets in the back of church during Advent and Lent. Use them!
- Many books by and about saints have good material to reflect on in prayer.
- Social media such as Facebook offers you instant access to asking for prayers, praying for others, and receiving feeds from Catholic sources that have daily prayers and reflections. "Like" various pages to receive their updates.
- Don't let what someone else does dictate what you do.
- Remember that prayer can (and should) take four forms at different times: adoration, contrition, thanksgiving, and supplication (ACTS).
- Be open to change and trying new things until you develop a prayer life that works for you.
- Don't spend all of your time reading and learning about it - actually do it!
- Prayer is conversation. Talking to God doesn't have to be formal.
- There is a place for memorized prayer. Sometimes we don't know what to say in prayer, and the prayers we already know are exactly what we need to say.
- Consider having a prayer buddy to help you be accountable in your prayer life.
- Don't wait until bed to pray about the whole day. Put prayer into your day as it happens. Every little bit counts.
Thank you very much to our speaker and to the women who showed up for tonight's talk! We have a really great year planned with some special guest speakers and some presentations by members of our team. I'll be posting my notes after each talk, so if you can't make it or you're trying to remember something that caught your attention, hopefully I'll have it here for you. Our next talk will be on Saturday, October 6th on the topic of "Living the Year of Faith at Home."
All images on this post are my own. Please do not use without permission.