"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Monday, January 18, 2016

Honest thoughts about prayer

I'm certainly not an expert or a saint...I mainly want to get this out so future Jen can read it when she slacks off (ahem). Hopefully it will be encouraging to you!

A lot of us make excuses when it comes to prayer – I don't have time to pray, I don't get anything out of it, etc.

I know because I've been there. I still have my moments, of course, and always will...but if there's anything I've learned from the past year (where I really, really strived to improve my prayer life), it's that the only thing that was stopping me from praying was myself.

I hope I don't come across too harsh, but if you don't think you have time to pray, just think...Do you have time to watch TV? Read blogs? Go out to eat? Shop? Check Facebook/Instagram/your favorite social media channel? Then you have time to pray. I'm saying this with all of the love in the world: Stop making excuses. Just pray!

If you're currently in a period of dryness in prayer, know that it doesn't last forever and that you're probably growing in virtue even though it doesn't feel like it. Just keep praying! (Also, refer to the Catechism! Part Four on Christian Prayer has a section called "The Battle of Prayer." So good.)

Just like anything in life, it's easy to fall out of the habit of praying. You can probably relate when it comes to exercising or eating well or even staying on top of housework. If you don't do it often, it's easy to just stop and not realize the negative consequences until life is overwhelming. The same goes with prayer.

When I was pregnant with Landon and on bedrest, it was SO HARD to pray. I had all the time in the world to pray but probably prayed less than I ever have. (When you're forced to be lazy physically, it's very easy to be lazy spiritually as well.) Don't be me. Don't think that not praying won't have negative effects on your life.

Thankfully, I learned from that experience, and my stubborn self is determined to not let the same thing happen this pregnancy. So far, it's been good. Instead of thinking about all of the things I can't do while pregnant, I've been trying to focus on what I can do, like pray! (Full disclosure: I haven't been successful all the time with not thinking about the things I can't do...I've been trying to refrain from blogging about it. You're welcome. Love, crazy pregnant Jen.) (I don't know why I'm talking in 3rd person today.)

Start small! Just taking the time first thing when you wake up to pray a Morning Offering is a great start. After you get in the habit of doing that, add something else – maybe a chaplet or another favorite prayer of yours after lunch.

Last year, I was so determined to pray a lot that I definitely bit off more than I could chew. I tried to suddenly pray a daily rosary AND pray the Liturgy of the Hours AND make it to daily Mass as often as I could. Not surprisingly, I quickly became frustrated when I couldn't do it all. Don't do that. Start small and gradually add things as you feel ready. It took me several months of praying the rosary to finally make it a habit and something I thoroughly enjoy each day.

If you need some inspiration, find a saint that you admire and read their writings and ask for their prayers. There are so many awesome saints that are just waiting for us to ask for their help!

“Prayer is the most powerful weapon a Christian has. Prayer makes us effective. Prayer makes us happy. Prayer gives us all the strength that we need to fulfill God’s commands. Yes, indeed, your whole life can and should be a prayer.” – St. Josemaria Escriva

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