For most of my adulthood, my prayer life has consisted of Mass on Sunday, various random calls on God on the saints as necessary throughout the day, and petitions in bed at night–if I did not fall asleep first. I would marvel at folks who attended Mass daily, or said the rosary regularly, or woke up early for quiet time with God. How on earth did they find the time?
Over the past few years I have experienced a real longing for holiness, a desire to spend more intentional time in prayer. And I’ve had some limited success, with help from prayer journaling, a schedule that facilitated weekday Mass attendance, and even Facebook! A schedule change this year, though, meant I had no reason to leave the house until afternoon. And without that little boost, and with always so much work to do at home, I just haven’t been able to make myself go to morning Mass even though I really enjoyed it.
Every article about having a regular prayer life says to schedule time with God: have a prayer appointment at the same time each day. So I tried. First I got up earlier in the morning to pray, but fell asleep in my chair the first few mornings and started hitting the snooze button instead. I tried praying every night before bed (not IN bed!), and I fell asleep then too. I considered scheduling prayer time mid-morning once I was good and awake, but I just couldn’t make myself go back upstairs (where my prayer space is located) once I had already gotten involved in my work.
As I type all that it sounds pathetic, but I am just being honest! And this post does have a happy ending (at least for now!). Here’s what I did:
- I let go of last year’s schedule. Just because I had a great thing going last year doesn’t mean it works this year, and that is okay. Next school year will be different and maybe morning Mass will work for me again.
- I made a commitment to FIT PRAYER IN. I chose certain practices, and promised myself I would do them every day, but not necessarily on a particular schedule or at the same time every day.
- I found tools to make regular prayer as easy as possible. You can read about them here.
- I found accountability partners. Right now I’m participating in the 33 Days of Merciful Love challenge with Catholic Fit Moms for Life. Regular prayer is one of my goals for the challenge, and the challenge itself includes spiritual reading and journaling. I am registered for the Pray More Advent Retreat, which will overlap just a bit and then take me all the way to Christmas.
So what does this look like right now? Once I’m alone in the house, I will usually do my journaling for the 33 Days challenge. Then I will work for awhile before taking a break to say what I think of as my morning prayers, which I have saved on my phone so I don’t even have to leave my desk. I listen to Pray As You Go in the car on the way to pick up the kids. After dinner, when I used to sit on the porch and read, I now retire to my prayer space and do my reading for the challenge and use Hallow to meditate. And I still say those bedtime prayers. And if I don’t get to do all those things on a given day, I don’t feel worried or guilty, I just resume on the following day.
And you know what? By my prioritizing fitting prayer in somewhere, somehow, rather than attempting to schedule it, a schedule more or less naturally fell into place on its own!
So if you are a busy person who wants to pray more, and a prayer schedule hasn’t worked for you, try just committing to fitting it in and see how that works for you!