Reflections

Prayer Life: Embracing the “Now”

June 3, 2017
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The Struggle is Real: Accepting the Changes of Motherhood

Recently, I went to confession and found myself rattling off my typical sins. My most popular one? Not putting Christ first in my daily life. Sometimes, I fall short on morning or night prayer, I don’t turn to God during the day in either thanksgiving or seeking counsel, etc. Once I finished my litany, Father said, “You know, when your prayer life is a priority, you’ll find that the other struggles will be less of an issue.” My response? Duh, that’s obvious, I know that! (Mind you, I did not say any of that aloud.)

For us mothers, it's easy to look back on how our prayer life was before children and to feel discouraged. How can we carve out quality time with the Lord amidst the distractions which characterize our vocation?During my drive back home, I then seriously started to wonder: what is my prayer life now? I didn’t have an immediate answer… but I definitely knew what my prayer life was like before marriage and kids: uninterrupted moments of silence with Christ, frequent retreats, long journaling sessions, deep spiritual discoveries. I wish I could have all that back. Honestly, I’ve been scrambling to retrieve it ever since I lost it. I hope you see the problem as clearly as I do: I wasn’t living in the now and adjusting accordingly. Sure, I’ve read some excellent spiritual books in the past few years, my husband and I have attended a fruitful marriage retreat, and we’ve introduced many traditions to our children in order to bring the liturgical seasons into our home. But, if I took a good, harsh look at my personal prayer life, it’s not at all what it should be.

My Epiphany

And you know what? (Here’s where my real epiphany occurred!) Ever since the demands of marriage and children have arrived, I’ve actually tried out different prayer formats in order to keep my relationship with Christ alive. Various novenas and litanies, Morning Prayer sent to my phone (Catholic Company’s Morning Offering), saint biographies, Louis de Montfort’s rosary style, 33 Days to Morning Glory instead of the Louis de Montfort consecration…I think you get the picture! Now, for that epiphany, I mentioned: I needed to go back to the basics. It’s almost like I was filling up my prayer life with “stuff” and not considering what I really needed. From what little I understand about the great works of God, He was still working in my life and still totally present through all those wonderful prayers and books. Yet, He was waiting patiently for me to just be with Him and consult with Him on my household, my family, and my heart.

Returning to Simplicity

Remember the Apostles asking Jesus how to pray? He taught them the Our Father (Luke 11:1-13). The Our Father! Such a simple, but powerful prayer. I want to re-build my prayer life on the simple. Amidst the constant dishwashing, diaper-changing, mail-sorting, and the floor-cleaning life that is now mine, shouldn’t my first priority—my relationship with God—be built on the basics? I live a different lifestyle than I used to, and that means I need to go back to square one.

There may or may not be fellow mamas who have experienced what I’ve experienced, but I definitely want to share my plan. I believe in baby steps. I don’t trust myself to wake up tomorrow to complete the Liturgy of the Hours, attend daily Mass, and conduct a thorough examination of conscience. It’s like the infamous New Year’s resolutions; people tend to make these huge goals that they throw themselves at on January 1. The effort is inspiring but it’s also overwhelming; you can lose focus and maybe even give up. So, my plan? Start with morning and evening prayer, and move from there. Later, I can incorporate my favorite prayers and devotions and maybe even introduce some new ones. For now, I make it a priority and keep it simple.

For us mothers, it's easy to look back on how our prayer life was before children and to feel discouraged. How can we carve out quality time with the Lord amidst the distractions which characterize our vocation?

Morning prayer (preferably alone and with a warm mug of coffee)

  • Take a moment to get comfortable and turn off distractions (hello Pinterest, I’m looking at you)
  • Greet God
  • Think of the day ahead and ask God for what I need even if I don’t know what it is yet
  • Mention particular intentions—family, friends, myself
  • Carpe diem (seize the day!)

Evening prayer

  • Take a moment to get comfortable and turn off distractions (maybe avoid your bed because you may fall asleep!)
  • Greet God
  • Think of the day that has passed and give thanks for it
  • Examine your day (both wins and losses):
    • How did I treat my spouse?
    • How did I treat my children?
    • Did I use my free time wisely?
    • Did I invite Christ into every part of my day?
    • What was the best part of my day?
    • What was the worst part of my day?
    • What could I work on tomorrow?
  • Mention particular intentions—family, friends, myself
  • Get some beauty sleep

I know it will continue being a work in progress, but bit by bit I hope to improve. What about you mothers out there?How do you embrace the “now” in your prayer life? What has helped you have a solid foundation with God amidst a busy lifestyle?

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