OK, prayer is not tricky…finding time to pray is tricky.
OK, finding time to pray is not tricky…making time to pray – that’s on me.
Why, even in Lent, do I find it difficult to develop a discipline of prayer? I want to be the biggest pray-er. I want to visit with the Lord and with Our Lady without getting to the end of the day, thinking, “Oh, NO! I forgot to pray!”
Tomorrow, I am presenting a family retreat for a parish in Jacksonville, Florida. Part of the presentation is about Sts. Zelie and Louis Martin. What a powerhouse saint couple, canonized on the same day, as a married couple. Parents of the Church Doctor, St. Therese of the Child of Jesus. Loving parents of 5 daughters, all who entered the religious life. These two souls…my goodness.
And how they prayed! In fact, St. Zelie saw prayer as the rhythm of her day. On her waking, Mass first. Rosary next, along with morning offerings. Grace at all meals – no exceptions. Afternoon prayers. Evening prayers with the children. Evening offerings, prayed with her husband, St. Louis, after all the children were settled for the night. No wonder they were canonized! Their conversation throughout the day was with their friend and Savior, Jesus (and his Blessed Mother).
It was a DISCIPLINE for the Martins. God was always first. Always.
I have to confess: I have difficulty with prayer, especially teaching my kids to pray.
Growing up, faith was something expected in our south Louisiana home, and Catholicism was the choice my parents wanted for us. I knew my mother had a developed faith from childhood, but I did not know much about my father’s background. My grandmother, a convert from Baptist, lived with us. She taught me to pray my Rosary, and I fell in love with Our Blessed Mother because of her dedication to the discipline of saying the Rosary.
But faith was not talked about in our household. It was just part of the household.
When we had just one child, the hubs and I were really good at “teaching” the prayers. But when we added daughter 2, daughter 3, daughter 4, and our older son, our discipline turned into excuses and tiredness, and anything other than mental energy. In a sense, we left the children’s pray lives to chance. Except for the occasional family Rosary, grace before meals, and asking the kids to pray for special intentions, family prayer has not been the rhythm of the day.
Thank God for the grace of prayer, even when we do not formally teach it! Each of the children has crafted a discipline of prayer, in their own ways. Our oldest daughter loves adoration; our second daughter loves charismatic type prayer; our third daughter loves to journal, writing letters to God; our fourth daughter reminds us to pray grace and writes beautiful love letters to God; and our son has a devotion to the Blessed Mother, praying the Rosary daily.
We dodged a bullet, to a certain extent. Sure, our children are exposed to lifestyle Catholicism, with our traditions, and devotions. We enjoy plenty of times together with youth events and special Masses. Our weekly Mass is non-negotiable, and daily Mass is encouraged. But praying together as a family – that’s been a struggle.
I could list a gazillion reasons why prayer does not take precedence, but it would be a list of excuses. On Sunday, I’m going to release a downloadable list on The Twenty of 20 Ways to Pray When You are a Working Catholic Mom. I need to download that list for myself.
My prayer for you tonight is for you to find strength in your prayer, and a commitment to more time with Our Lord. Like St. Zelie, we must see it as the rhythm of our day, rather than the day taking a life of its own.
Here are some questions to ponder, as you think about your own prayer life:
1. In what ways do I need to build a relationship with the Lord? How can I do this, given the flow of my day?
2. If I were to make prayer the rhythm of my day, what might need to change in my life?
3. List 3 ways I can pray with the children.
God Bless you on your journey!