Thursday, February 24, 2011

Making Daily Prayer Work as a Mother

For the last FOCUS Wives' Club Newsletter I wrote an article on prayer as a wife and mother. With Lent less than 2 weeks away I thought now would be a good time to post the article as Catholics across the world start considering how they will sanctify their Lenten season.

Perhaps this year is the time for you to commit or recommit to daily mental prayer?

After putting the kids down for their naps, I sat down at my computer to begin writing this article on the importance of daily prayer and how it changes when you become a wife and mother. I was drawing a blank. I had some bullet points in mind, but couldn’t formulate anything together. And then it hit me. I myself hadn’t taken the time to pray that day.

You’ve been there right? Tell me you have. It’s one of those day’s when you sleep in and everything gets started late so you tell yourself “I’ll pray during nap time”. Then you get there and you have fifteen things on the to-do list and you say “Let me just knock a few of these off and then I’ll spend some time with You Lord”. A few things later and the kids are up, “What!” you think “I just put them down... two hours ago”.

Getting our daily mental prayer time in as wives and mothers can be a challenge. It’s just not as simple as it may have been in the past, but that doesn’t mean that we are no longer called to it. So don’t give up! Instead, accept this change in your life and discover ways that you can embrace the new normal.

Step 1: New Vision
Let go of the idea that prayer consists of kneeling quietly before the Blessed Sacrament with complete focus and occasional levitation. More likely it will look like sitting on the couch with a prayer book and journal with occasional interruptions to free the captives (a waking child) or feed the hungry (a nursing infant).

Step 2: Be faithful 
It’s easy to get discouraged and let a few days slip by without praying, especially in times of transition. But, what God wants more than anything from our prayer time is daily fidelity.

Step 3: Put it on the schedule... 
And while you’re at it, put a backup time on the schedule too. Look at your daily routine and see what makes the most sense for you at this time for 10-20-30 minutes of mental prayer. For many of us this will be first thing in the morning or when the kids are sleeping. I know schedules can be difficult with infants, so you may need to be more flexible. Perhaps commit to praying during the first nap your child takes each day, whenever that may be. The key is to put first things first when your free time occurs. If you wait, chances are you will rush your prayer or not get it in at all. I’ve also found that when I spend the beginning of my free time with our Lord, I accomplish more during the rest of it.

Step 4: Set expectations for kids
Teach your older children about your prayer time and set expectations for them during it. If you try to get your prayer time in before the kids wake up chances are they will not always sleep until you are finished. But, if you have trained them to wait until you are done praying to ask for your assistance, interruptions will eventually be less of an issue. For non-napping kids you can still institute a quite time when everyone needs to be in a designated spot reading or playing quietly without interrupting mom.

Step 5: Have a plan for your prayer 
Sometimes when we sit down to pray we give up because we aren’t really sure what to do. While there are many methods of prayer, I suggest a simple version of the Teresian method of prayer, which is modeled after the instructions of St. Teresa of Avila, for those who are trying to get back into the grove of things. To begin, take a few minutes to calm your mind and heart, praying one decade of the rosary can help in this process. Then select a reading from the Bible or a meditation from a book, such as In Conversation with God which follows the daily mass readings. While reading, if something jumps out at you, take a moment to consider why and reflect on the idea until you are ready to move on. Once you have completed the reading, come up with a simple and concrete resolution as a result of what you have learned in your prayer time and write it down in a journal. From there you can continue to journal or offer prayers of petition. Finally, close with a prayer of thanksgiving.

Blessings to you as you decide how the Lord is calling you to deepen your relationship with Him in the upcoming season!


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