Prayer is sort of like exercise. I don’t really have time to do it, but I’m not a healthy person if I skip it.
So I make time. Not enough, admittedly, but enough to keep me at a baseline level of spiritual fitness.
It occurred to me that it might be helpful to share when I manage to squeeze this prayer into the mix of my busy day, because my busy day probably looks a lot like your busy day, and the more we moms can share tips about how we keep healthy and happy, the better off we all are. So here it is, my answer to the question When do you pray?
And I do hope you’ll share your own answer in the comments below, because I want to learn from your wisdom and experience!
Mornings, Before Work (otherwise known as Prayer By Stealth)
A while back, I realized that if I sneak a cup of morning coffee back to my bedroom and close the door, I can actually manage to work in five minutes of uninterrupted prayer. My kids see the closed door and assume I am spending the whole time getting dressed, so they leave me in peace. It is sneaky but effective.
During that brief time, I usually look at the Mass readings in Give Us This Day, and/or pray with a daily devotional (two I’m into at the moment are The Ignatian Book of Days and WholeHearted Living). I might also read the daily devotion on Blessed Is She. It’s a nice little ritual that helps me start my day on a good note.
Drive to Work: Praying with Music
On my commute — which is a half-hour — I sometimes listen to music that gets me in a prayerful space. Sometimes this is the local classical radio station, and sometimes it’s a CD of more “churchy” songs that actually mention God.
And sometimes I just listen to stuff that doesn’t feel prayerful at all but simply wakes me up. ABBA fits in that category (though with a name like that, can’t I make a case that they are a churchy group too?)
Nighttime: Prayer Desk and candles
Okay, I don’t do this prayer every night; sometimes the siren song of the couch and TV is just too strong. But often I retreat to the prayer desk in our bedroom, light a candle, and take a few moments to sit in quiet and peace. I might pray the Examen, or run through a litany of requests and concerns, or pick up the rosary and finger the beads in a sort of wordless prayer. I might just stare at the candle flame and feel the presence of God. There is something precious about my prayer corner at night; it feels so holy and unhurried, somehow, with the shadow of the candle flame flickering on the closed blinds.
It is always better than watching TV. Funny how easy it is to forget that.
Random Times During the Day
Someone famous once said to pray without ceasing. St. Ignatius of Loyola said you can find God in all things. Both ideas point to the reality that prayer can be instinctive, and informal; almost a way of being as opposed to a specific action or practice.
Much of my prayer ends up feeling like that: a wordless recognition of the goodness of God all around me. This feeling might come on me when I see my kids playing together in the front yard, or when I see a man helping his elderly wife across the street. It might come upon me when I walk past a fragrant honeysuckle bush on my Sunday morning walk, or when my family does a group hug. It might come upon me in the sight of the sky the other night, admiring the moon on the rise as it peeks through the strands of pink and blue.
So how about you? When do you find time to pray?