April 27, 2010 // Uncategorized

Improve your prayer life today

A friend of mine confided that she started saying a daily rosary after her son graduated from college and moved 2,000 miles away. Another friend told me she started praying a daily Memorare and started going more frequently to Adoration after her son was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition. Another mom was motivated to pray deeply and strongly when her high school aged children started driving to school 15 miles away each morning. Still another mom found her prayer life jump-started with a health scare with her one-year-old daughter.

We’ve all done it — been scared into contact with God. Whether we’ve uttered a quick, “Please God, no” or “Help me!” or “Be with my kids!” pleading, most of us can relate to turning to God when things are scary and somehow just not right.

The truth is, suffering and pain can help us turn to God in ways that nothing else can, and while God does not seek to frighten or hurt us, He can and does use these opportunities to draw us to Him.

There’s nothing wrong with turning to God when things go wrong or are stressful, but a relationship based on that alone is immature, like a child who only runs to parents when the knee is skinned or he fears monsters under the bed. A true friendship and bond with God is formed when we turn to Him in good times too — to thank, adore, recognize and just be with. It is a give-and-take, an ebb-and-flow. A true friendship is borne in sharing good and bad, in maintaining regular contact, and demonstrating and receiving understanding and love.

Holier souls than me start their day with Mass. This is, of course, the best possible scenario, as Mass is the most perfect of all prayers. But for many of us this is simply not possible every morning. I usually make breakfast and send off the high school kids, kiss my husband goodbye and then settle into my sofa, coffee mug in hand, to pray a rosary before the younger children arise.

Some days I fly through the beads and immediately into deep mental prayer. Other days I struggle with concentrating on each word I say aloud, trying to recall the mystery for the day, waiting for that mental prayer to arrive. Sometimes it never does.

I try to remind myself that the benefit of prayer is not tied to how I feel. Sometimes God grants consolations and insights to my soul. Other times I feel drier than tumbleweed in the Texas sun. It should only matter that I try to be open and put myself in the Lord’s presence, trusting that He will use the time I offer in ways He sees is best.

I feel this simple, short prayer — which takes less than 15 minutes unless I go off on some thought or meditation — helps put me in the right frame of mind for the rest of the day.

Frequenting the sacraments is the best way to enjoy a rich prayer life. Here are some tips for home prayer that can help as well:

• Recognize that you will never find time to pray. You must MAKE time to pray. Study your daily rhythm and figure out when is best for you.
• Find a quiet, relaxing place where you can focus on the mysteries of the rosary or let your mind wander into mental prayer. Choose a clean room where you’re not tempted to start working.
• Keep your “equipment” nearby — your rosary, a book of novenas, a prayer journal to keep track of intentions, a crucifix and maybe some ice water, coffee or hot tea.  

Author and philosopher Peter Kreeft says it’s impossible to pray without silence, solitude and slowing down. This is common sense, and yet so many of us have trouble experiencing those things in our lives. We’re so used to trying harder in our careers, being around others in our family and our workplace and working quickly and efficiently — even playing at a fast pace — that those qualifications for real deep prayer often elude us.

Kreeft says that nature provides these things in plenty. That’s why walks are good for the soul and sitting on an empty beach can be cathartic in ways that nothing else can be. Try praying outside for a change of pace when the weather is nice.

Our relationship with God can become a deep friendship, but we need to carve out that most precious of commodities — time — and offer that to Him. God won’t be outdone in generosity, and when we implement the tips above, prayer life will naturally become more fruitful.

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