My Prayer Plan

As I sit down to write this, I take what feels like my first breath of the morning and feel relief.  I have been up since six o’clock this morning running around frantically to make it to a special event at my oldest daughter’s school, drop my son of at his school, run home to pickup my youngest to deliver her to yes, a third school, meet a friend to drop something off, and return home to meet a flooring guy about a quote.  It is only ten o’clock.  My best laid plans for the morning are shot.

How many times has this happened to you in your prayer life?  How many times have you told yourself, “Tomorrow, I’m going to spend quiet time (10, 30, 60 minutes) in prayer.” and then something unexpected happens?  I get it.  I’m a parent too.  I have three beautiful, spirit filled kids who keep me busy in ways I never thought possible.

For years I struggled with finding time for God.  For years I sacrificed my time with Him for everything else going on in my life.  But now, I make sure I spend time every day, even if only for a few minutes, with Him in prayer.

Here are my suggestions to helping you establish a prayer life that is beautiful, fulfilling, constant, and allows you to hear God’s voice even in the midst of your busy life.  Doing these things will not guarantee success, but they will help you succeed a little more each day.  Remember, this took me years to develop and I still fail from time to time, but my connection to God has brought me to a place in my spiritual journey that I never thought possible.  It has changed my entire outlook on faith, love, suffering, joy, acceptance, and the quest toward holiness.

Go to Mass/Church – There is simply no better way to spend time with our Lord in prayer than at Mass.  The Mass is one long prayer.  When you are in Mass, you hear God speak through scripture, you encounter the scriptures in your daily life through the homily, and you get to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.  The entire Mass is biblical in nature.  If someone questions your knowledge of the bible, simply recite the prayers, responses, and simple hymns that are sung during Mass, they are all directly from the Bible.  Did you know that if you go to Mass every day for three years, you will have heard the entire Bible read to you during the Liturgy of the Word?  It’s amazing how much you can learn and encounter Christ by spending one hour of your weekend at Mass.

Create a home filled with reminders of Him – There isn’t a room in my house that doesn’t have some sort of spiritual reminder.  The artwork found around my home exudes God, whether it be quotes from scripture, our mealtime prayer, pictures of Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary or the Holy Water font I have hanging near the door we most often use to exit the house.  Everywhere you look, you are reminded of our Lord.  I have at least one crucifix/cross in each room of my house.  I recently had a complete stranger come to the house to do some work and he commented how peaceful the house felt.  By having these reminders surrounding me, Jesus is never far from my mind.

Chores can wait! –  The kids are taking naps, playing at a friend’s house, at the grandparents, or at school for the day and you have an hour or more to accomplish something around your house.  Oh my goodness, you have been given a gift, a free moment of time.  These moments are cherished by busy parents.  What do I usually do with this free time, chores.  My list of chores gets longer every day and sometimes I feel like I may never get caught up; clean the dishes from breakfast, fold the laundry, scrub a dirty toilet, make my bed (who am I kidding, this never gets done), pickup the toys, sweep the kitchen floor, the list goes on and on.

Chores used to be my favorite excuse as to why I couldn’t find the time to pray.  Now, I pray first, then do the chores.  The dishes will still be dirty, the toilet will still need scrubbed, but your mind will be set at ease and you will better encounter the daily grind with Jesus walking by your side.

If you are anything like me, you are sitting there saying, “How can I pray when I have a list a mile long that needs done?”.  Trust me.  Leave the chores.  Take a walk.  Find a quiet spot in your house.  Go outside on your porch.  You will be amazed at what God will reveal to you, and instead of entering chore time thinking about how much you hate doing them, you will be filled with the Holy Spirit and able to do the chores in peace.

Set a reminder on your phone – Do you ever get alerts on your phone?  Ding…a text message just arrived.  Beep…someone just messaged you on Facebook.  Ring…you just earned a new character on Subway Surfers.

I decided a few years ago to turn off all of my notifications except one, the one that alerts me to pray.  I downloaded an app called Universalis.  This app alerts me seven times a day to pray.  The sound that comes from the alert is a church bell.  I hear the alert and God is instantly brought to my mind.  Sometimes I sit and pray a few minutes and other times I simply pray “God, come to my assistance, Lord, make haste to help me.”.  Develop a prayer of your own, setup an alert on your phone and bring Him to mind throughout your day even in the littlest way.

Go to Adoration – Adoration changes people, period.  What is the one thing lacking in our lives today?  Silence.  Without silence, how can we expect to hear God, how can we expect to see the path God is encouraging us to walk with Him?  Adoration is blissful silent prayer in front of Jesus in the Eucharist.

Before I was Catholic and would visit a Catholic church, I always felt there was something special and sacred about praying in a Catholic church.  My soul could feel Jesus there, my mind just couldn’t recognize Him yet.  Countless times I entered Catholic churches in my travels around the United States and abroad where I lit candles and knelt in prayer.  Many Catholic churches have small chapels where people come to pray nearly all day every day.  It is simply beautiful and humbling to see the number of people that come seeking Jesus in prayer and find him in Adoration.

Adoration changed me.  The silence changed me.  Spending a dedicated hour with Jesus away from my home changed me.  Prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament = power.

Get up 10 minutes early every day – This one is easy.  Set your alarm for 10 minutes early tomorrow morning.  Before you even get out of bed, pray.  Don’t even let your feet hit the floor, pray.  Don’t go to the bathroom, pray.  Not sure where to start with your prayer, just pray one Our Father.  Unfamiliar with that prayer, just pray “Jesus be with me today.”  Over time, as you begin to get used to your new routine, spend some time asking God to guide you through your day, watch over your kids, help you to encounter suffering with hope, and to allow you to give grace to those you encounter.  Simple.  Easy.  Literally start your day with prayer.

Listen to Catholic/Christian radio – One of the main sources to deepen my faith was St. Gabriel Catholic radio.  It is a Catholic Christian talk radio station that offers shows such as “Call to Communion”, “Christ is the Answer”, “The Sunrise Morning Show”, “Encounter” and “Catholic Answers Live”.  Without this station, I would never know the Lord and His Church like I do today.  It is uplifting, encouraging, and faith building.  It allows me to hear the answers to deep questions about the faith and it helps me discern whether or not I am on the path to holiness.

When I’m in the mood for something other than talk radio, I turn on 104.9 The River a Christian contemporary music station and let the Lord speak directly to my soul through music.  The lyrics are inspiring and speak the truth of Jesus Christ.  Many times, I find myself singing the songs throughout my day bringing Jesus back to my mind over and over again.

Find a good Catholic/Christian book/devotional – There are so many wonderful faith filled books!  It has been four years since I have read a secular book.  The knowledge and the depth of my faith have exploded by reading stories of hope founded in Jesus Christ, church history, the history of the bible, beginning theology, stories about the saints, conversion stories and more.  I have a few devotionals, but my favorite is Jesus Calling.  This devotional is a very easy way to spend 5 minutes in prayer, reading scripture and hearing Jesus call your heart home to him.

Check social media AFTER you finish praying – How many times do we finally get to take a break throughout our day and we immediately turn to social media?  The next time you think about opening Facebook or Instagram, put your phone down and pray FIRST.  We all know how depressing and controversial social media can be.  When you pray first, it puts your mind into a restful, peaceful state where you can encounter situations through God’s eyes instead of human eyes, and sometimes after praying you won’t even want to see what the world has to say.

Don’t beat yourself up – Lastly, don’t beat yourself up.  Too many times I have heard parents say how mad they are at themselves for not finding the time to pray.   Don’t get mad, just do a little better every day and if you miss a day, that’s ok, start again tomorrow.

God wants you in relationship with Him.  He wants to know you as a Father knows his child.  He wants you to open your soul to him and share your heart’s struggles, desires, dreams, and passions.  Start that relationship with him today.  Start small.  Choose one item on my list and once you’ve perfected it, choose another one.

Think of the power we could harness if we all made prayer a priority.  Let’s do this!  Let’s change the world together, one faithful prayer warrior at a time.

“Look to the LORD and his strength; seek his face always.” – 1 Chronicles 16:11

 

 

 

 

 

 

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