Bottom Line Up front: Talk to God Every DayI saw a quote recently that said, "Until we believe that prayer is a good use of our time, we will not make time for prayer". How true this is! There is one thing we all have in common: Time. In this life, we all live within the framework of time. We can only move forward in time, not backward. Yet we can use our past to help us to navigate our future. How have we have communicated with God in the past? Have we made prayer a priority? Have we placed importance on communicating with God? Thinking back on how we have spent our time in the past few weeks will give us insight into what our priorities truly are, and how we can do better.
Prayer must be a part of any plan for spiritual growth, but where do we begin? Saint Francis de Sales counsels us to begin at the beginning. "Making God a part of that first consciousness of the new day starts things out on the right footing...Not merely as the first among many things to do each day, but first of all the devout person thinks of God, whose graceful action makes awakening possible." (Live Today Well p. 47). Starting the day with a holy thought such as, "Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner", can orient our day towards God. Or begin the day with a morning offering such as the following prayer:
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart, in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world, for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians, and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month. Amen.
To lift up our minds to Our Lord immediately upon awakening helps to prepare us for prayer by calling to mind the real and close presence of God in our lives. It also sets us up for a prayerful rest of the day: "Pause, ever so briefly, before anything we do and make a threefold prayer in which we ask for God's grace, offer to God the action we are about to do, and promise to accept whatever will happen in the process."
Prayer is a habit. We must work at it, just as we work on other habits such as consistent exercise or eating well. Prayer is even greater than these other good habits, as is something that will ultimately bring peace, acceptance, and joy to our life.
We cannot forget that it always takes effort. The Catechism of the Catholic Church makes a few important points regarding prayer: "Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part. It always presupposes effort. The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. " (CCC 2725).
Evaluate your prayer life. How can it improve in 2018? Can you commit to starting and ending each and every day with prayer? Begin each new day with a thanksgiving to God for bringing us to the new day. End each day with a look at how it was lived. A quick (or sometimes longer) examination helps us to look at our day and redirect tomorrow with purpose. Can you add a rosary to your prayerful habits? The Angelus? A Divine Mercy Chaplet? There are many ways to pray.
Choose something. It is true that until we believe that prayer is a good use of our time, we will not make time for prayer, yet sometimes reversing the order is all it takes. Add a prayer to your day and commit to saying it for a week. Then another. Make it a habit. Then you might start to believe it is important.