Saturday, October 4, 2014

Prayer Thoughts

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"How often I failed in my duty to God, because I was not leaning on the strong pillar of prayer." -- St. Teresa of Avila

I wake up and I pray. I eat and I pray. I hear of some sad or glad news and I pray. I pass a Catholic church. I pray. I pass a cemetery. I pray. 

Yet, I struggle with prayer. My mind never wants to settle. Or, if it does, it is only because I have fallen asleep. I talk too fast through memorized prayers (I can talk fast in general!). I forget to say a prayer I meant to say. I forget who I said I would pray for (my memory is horrible). I often feel way too busy to pray -- which is the worst mistake ever.

So what's a mom to do?

One of my first "aha" moments was when I realized that no matter how or when I prayed, I just had to do it. Every day. I had to make it a habit. Perhaps this seems silly to you but for most of my life prayer was not habitual and only when "thought of." I had no guidance or even the sense of urgency to prayer from those around me.

To combat my upbringing, I focused on praying at certain times and added other prayers as I settled more into the praying habit. I still struggle. It is too easy to slip into a lifetime's worth habit of not praying, especially when I go through a time of disconnect., and I still have no reinforcement to prayer outside my children (who do remind me!!! Thank goodness.).

"Are you making no progress in prayer? Then you need only offer God the prayers which the Savior has poured out for us in the sacrament of the altar. Offer God His fervent love in reparation for your sluggishness." -- St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, from a letter

Another "aha" moment came after the birth of my fourth child, and I felt awful and then felt even worse for too long - mentally and physically. Praying any type of formal prayer was so difficult. This is when I learned that it's not always about the long and fancy prayers, but the prayers from your heart. My most-used prayer during this time was simply, "Jesus." He knows me. He knows you. He knows our wants and our needs. Trust in Him.

As far as praying for others and then forgetting, I stopped waiting to pray. I offer up a prayer then and there. Later, I offer up a more general prayer. I know God knows. 

One could spend all day in prayer. As a mom, you learn to make the day your prayer. Sure, you have moments of formal prayer, but then you have your inner prayer that goes on like a sound track in your head. "Guide us today, Lord. Open up my children's hearts to You. Protect us. Thank You, Lord, for this beautiful day. Help me to become a saint. What do You want of me, Lord?" And so forth.

Yes, I still struggle. I have dark moments where I just want to stop. Not really, but a part of me whispers doubts and discouragement. I know prayer is a discipline, and it is the way to grow closer to God. So I must persevere, as with anything worthwhile. So must we all.

Prayer... such a seemingly small thing with big rewards. No matter how, just do it. Just pray. God will listen.

"Prayer - A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul which is pure and beautiful must pray, or else it will lose its beauty; a soul which is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul which is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer." -- St. Faustina

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