Okay, I’ll admit that I didn’t hear all of the readings at mass yesterday. Or all the gospel. Or the homily. (I’ve got two kids three and under. It’s just not happening right now.) One of the things I did hear, however, is the reminder to pray continually. (In the parable of the corrupt judge and the widow who kept hounding him.)
Prayer is one of those parts in my life where I need to grow. Thankfully, as part of my parish’s annual Committed to Christ campaign, I have a chance to reflect upon that and make a new commitment.
Part of the problem is that I tend to pray compulsively. That is, I pray often, but without any thought and out of a place of fear and pain. This is not coming from a place of love, or a desire to be closer to Him. That is a problem.
I need to change the way I pray. I need to grow into a more mature, more peaceful prayer life, and here’s how I’m going to do it:
Set aside time to pray.
Okay, I admit that this is not a groundbreaking idea. It’s something that I should have been doing for a long time now. I have a myriad of excuses, most of them related to the care of young children, but really, it’s on me. Now that my children are old enough to have a set schedule, there’s really no reason I can’t set aside a regular time every day to pray. I’m starting small: the first fifteen minutes of my morning, and the first fifteen minutes of my kids’ nap time. I’m setting a timer and committing to hold myself to it.
At night, I’m going to end with this awesome four-step prayer our associate pastor shared in one of his first homilies. I’ve made it into a printable graphic that I’m happy to share with you:
(I’m new to the whole printable world, but I’m kind of proud of it…. I hope you like it!)
Be guided by the scriptures and other religious texts.
Yesterday at mass, our associate pastor quoted St. Jerome:
Ignorance of scripture is ignorance of Christ.
Now, I’m not entirely ignorant of scripture. I can’t chirp out chapter and verse any time someone rattles off a passage, but I am aware of all the stories. I know the Gospels and the parables in them. I’ve heard them many times over my thirty-something years as a Catholic.
Examine my conscience daily.
I’ll admit this one was hard for me in the past. Some days it still is. One, because it’s sometimes overwhelming to realize just how short I have fallen. Two, because it’s hard for me to think of everything in one sitting. That’s why I love this free app on my phone. Not only does it think of everything, but it enables you to save it for when you go to confession. If you’re not an iPhone addict like I am, the USCCB has some great examinations of conscience on their website. I particularly like how they’ve broken them up to address people in different stages of life.
Get others involved.
Part of the reason I’m writing this post (aside from the hope that it will help others grow in their faith life) is because I want to be held accountable. I’m pledging to share a short reflection every day on one of my social media feeds. It might be as small as a tweet, or an instagram image. I hope, friends, that if you see me slacking, you’ll drop me a line to call me out on that.
I’m also bringing my family into my prayer routine. Not only will it help me to be my best, but it will enable me to guide and encourage them the way that I should. Together, we will make each other stronger in our prayer lives.
So. I’ve got my marching orders.
How have you grown in your prayer life? Where can you stand to grow a little more? Sound off in the comments.