Alrighty friends, it’s time. I’m going to talk about prayer. A word that sometimes I really want to roll my eyes at but then good ol’ Christian guilt creeps in and I decide better of it.
I think that’s my point, at least for me. Why do I want to roll my eyes whenever I see one more article on Facebook or caption on Instagram about prayer? Part of it is because I think I already know all the answers to what it means to pray (pride is dumb, I’m working on it), and the other part of it is because I know that it’s something I perpetually struggle with. My guess is because you’re a human being like me, you sometimes may struggle with prayer, whether it’s finding the desire to pray, finding the time to pray, or just what to do when you get there in general. As I write this blog post, I’m 100% realizing I need to take my own advice too. Yay humility. Anyway, lucky for you, I’m a kind of girl who is all about practicals and not beating around the bush. So without further ado, 3 Practical Tools to Improve Your Prayer.
1. Remind yourself of what prayer actually is.
Sometimes all we need to revitalize an area in our life that seems like a perpetual struggle bus is to remind ourselves of how good it is. Never underestimate the power of a good pep talk (think any sports movie ever)! Here’s your pep talk for prayer:
Simply put, prayer is a conversation with God. Just re-read that sentence, ponder each of the words for one minute, and then keep reading. Seriously. Ready, set, ponder.
Okay. Is your mind blown? Because it darn well should be! Friends, the reality is that we have the capability of talking to the freaking Creator of the Universe, the Un-Moved Mover, the Beginning and the End, and sharing with Him our hearts and Him to speak back to us. But here’s the thing: we have this capability because God Himself put it in our hearts. I’m gonna share a quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and I challenge you not to go skip over it like you may be tempted to because it’s a long quote, but to actually read it and let it totally straight up convict you because it’s stinkin’ epic.
“Man may forget his Creator or hide far from his face; he may run after idols or accuse the deity of having abandoned him; yet the living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response. As God gradually reveals himself and reveals man to himself, prayer appears as a reciprocal call, a covenant drama. Through words and actions, this drama engages the heart. It unfolds throughout the whole history of salvation.”- CCC 2567
Friends, our God wants nothing more than to reveal Himself to us, and to rouse up in us a desire to communicate our inmost being back to Him. We pray because that is our heart’s’ deepest longing–to respond to Him who calls out to us first. To get to know the One who knows us the best. To run to Him Whose arms are always open. Let’s run y’all.
2. Sched, sched, sched, sched, sched, sched, ERRBODY.
This is the trickiest part of the whole dang thing, and with every dang thing in our little human lives.
“Let’s get coffee sometime!”
“I’m totally gonna start working out again.”
“I’m only gonna watch ONE more episode…”
“I’m gonna pray for 30 minutes everyday.”
Famous last words.
It’s incredibly easy to say something with wonderful intentions and genuinely want to do it, but it’s a whole other thing to be proactive. Our world would be a more caffeinated one, filled with healthy relationships of fit, holy people if we did everything we said we were gonna do.
I know every single person who has ever talked about prayer ever has said to do this, but that’s because it’s foolproof. Therefore, this is my encouragement to you: schedule in your prayer time. I can guarantee it’s not going to happen if you’re not proactive about it. I have my morning routine down on work days so that I know that after I workout, it’s shower, change, and head off to Adoration for 40 minutes of prayer. But on days where I don’t have to go into work, the struggle is so much more real because my day isn’t scheduled. I’ve quickly learned to even schedule out the mornings of my off-days or else I know I won’t ever sit down with the Lord that day.
One of my friends has an alarm set on her phone specifically labeled ‘Prayer,” that goes off every morning after her original wake-up alarm. Another one of my friends puts it on her Google Calendar so she’ll get a notification on her phone reminding her that now’s the time. Do whatcha gotta do people. But you have to do something, or it ain’t gonna happen.
3. Ditch your phone. You heard me.
Smart phones. The single best and worst invention of this century. This is probably one of the hardest steps for me, because there are so many wonderful apps out there designed to help the modern day saint grow in virtue. I’m currently a sucker for the Laudate app because it literally has everything from novenas to the daily readings to different chaplets to encyclicals. Also, shout out to Blessed Is She devotionals. But the problem with using your phone for prayer is that more than likely, you have lots of other fun apps on there too: Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat…things that call your name and say “just check me really quickly for 1 minute before you pray, it won’t even take that long.” Aaaaaand 15 minutes later you totally forgot that you sat down to pray your St. Joseph Novena and there goes half of your allotted prayer time.
If this sounds like you, then you’re not alone. Bring back the beauty of good ol’ fashioned paper, and print out your novenas. Get a Magnificat for daily readings, or if you want to go the freebie route, print out a list of where to find the readings in your Bible (check out the USCCB website) and use that. The more you eliminate distractions, the better off you’ll be, I promise.
St. Josemaria Escriva is one of my all-time favorite saints because he always knows how to kick my spiritual butt. I’m going to leave you with some truth nuggets from him:
“Here is an effective custom for achieving presence of God: your first audience everyday should be with Jesus Christ.”
“A Catholic, without prayer? It is the same as a soldier without arms.”
“Look at the set of senseless reasons the enemy gives you for abandoning your prayer: ‘I have no time’ when you are constantly wasting it. ‘This is not for me.’ ‘My heart is dry…’ Prayer is not a question of what you say or feel, but of love. And you love when you try hard to say something to the Lord, even though you might not actually say anything.”
Written by Amylia Bult, NET Staff