From the time I was “saved” in 8th grade at a Youth Group retreat on the beach in 1980 to this very day in 2018, I’ve struggled to have a daily prayer time. Yes, that’s a long time. And yes, it’s been a struggle for the entire time. It’s never been easy. It’s not that I haven’t wanted this quiet, peaceful time of prayer to start my day, it’s just that, I’ve always been in too much of a hurry to sit still and do it.
It kills me to sit idle for too long. The dishes are calling. My Facebook has a notification. My email box is full. I need to attend to a waking child. Etc. Etc.
And yes, I know that praying is not being idle. However, I sometimes forget that this seemingly unproductive time is actually my most productive and important time of the day.
My memory is so short. . .
Good thing I don’t rely on memory alone, and still have enough sense and discipline to carry out this most important moment of my day. Still, there are those times that I want to cut my prayer time short or cut it out all together, and for those very frequent times, I have found that these 4 bits of advice help me to keep that prayer time going:
- Make it the first thing you do every morning. For those of us who have to get dressed and out the door pretty early, this might be pretty tough, but I find if I put it off, it just doesn’t get done. If you need to, set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier and have your prayer time be for 15 good minutes. I know we all need every bit of sleep, but we also need every bit of prayer that we can get. Try going to bed a little earlier. . .
- Which leads to my next tip--”Give Your Schedule to God.” Yes, say this right now and mean it: “Dear God, I give my schedule to you.” Don’t have your day so packed that you quite literally don’t have 15-30 minutes to spare. Look at your schedule. It’s like the old saying, if you are too busy to pray, you are really too busy. God has not fashioned us to live this way. We are meant to have time to breathe and have communion with him. He is the master of all time--give your time over to him. Trust God with your schedule that includes a time of prayer.
- A practical tip: Provide yourself the physical space and material to make it inviting for you. For different women this means different things. Some have a “prayer corner” or a comfy chair where they can retreat to. Maybe there is a corner in your bedroom free from distractions. I just sit at my desk, but never turn on my computer screen until I am done. I have a Divine Mercy picture there and sometimes, I light a candle. Once you have a place, next you might want materials that help you to pray. For some, it’s a prayer journal or devotional. Others use a Bible or prayer book. There’s nothing wrong with trying different materials or settling with an old favorite. Personally, I like to use the morning prayer from the Magnificat, a prayer journal which lists my prayer concerns, and usually another spiritual book or devotional.
- Lastly, use the liturgical and seasonal times to add variety and fervency to your prayer life. For example, with Lent starting in a month, you might want to try adding a few more minutes to your prayer time, or adding another devotion--like the Stations of the Cross. During Easter, maybe it’s reading St. Faustina’s Diary and praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet. For the month of May, you might want to read a devotional about Mary and add a Rosary decade. You get the idea. Be open to how our Church leads us AND to the Holy Spirit, who will also lead us to other prayer sources.
I hope this has been helpful for you. I know for me in just writing this, I feel a new energy and encouragement to consistently give this time in my day to God. Thank you for helping me to see this! Let’s keep each other in prayer tomorrow morning.