Some friends recently asked me about my daily prayer routine, so I thought I’d also share with you what keeps me afloat and fuels my days…
There was a period of time when all I could cry out to God was, “Jesus, help me!” Very much like Peter begging the Lord to save him from drowning, I was desperately seeking the hand of God to pull me out of the raging sea. My sister chuckled when she noticed the prayer bouncing around my computer screen – it was that much a part of my life.
Fortunately I’m in better times, but I still need that constant communication with my Maker, especially because I know I can’t go through life spiritually blinded. So I start my day with the following:
• MORNING OFFERING – I’ve been praying this for about 7 years every day both when I wake up and first thing in the school day with my students. It’s a beautiful prayer that helps me give to Jesus everything that is going to happen in my day so that each moment becomes a gift back to Him, even if I go through difficult times. You can find the prayer here: http://www.ourcatholicprayers.com/morning-offering.html
• LITANY OF HUMILITY – I fell in love with this prayer back in 2002 and recently started including it in my morning ritual after hearing the suggestion from Catholic speaker and former model Leah Darrow. Now this is definitely a transformative prayer because it helped prepare me for situations that would have otherwise broken and discouraged me. Instead of dwelling on the hurt I felt, I offered it back to Jesus and thanked Him for the opportunities to humbly suffer for love of Him. I cannot recommend this litany enough for the graces and virtues that flow through it! You can find the litany here: http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/humility.htm
• Meditate on the DAILY MASS READINGS on my iMissal app – I slowly and prayerfully read through these “lectio divina” style…asking the Holy Spirit to speak to me in the words of Scripture. Once a verse stands out among the others, I copy it and share it on my Facebook page!
• MUSTARD SEED REFLECTION from Matthew Kelly – Emailed from Dynamic Catholic (you can check out their website dynamiccatholic.com and subscribe to receive the emails). These quotes often relate to experiences we all go through on a day-to-day basis and make the Gospel message more tangible for today’s Catholic-Christian.
• FACEBOOK NEWSFEED – Only if I have time…this is extra…I totally flooded my Like Pages with Catholic ministries, organizations, homeschooling groups, inspiring priests/evangelists/speakers so I get a lot of good stuff on FB to encourage me throughout the day.
…and then at some point during the day (it was usually on my morning commute to work…now it’s whenever I have a 15-minute block of quiet time) I pray the Rosary, give thanks before each meal, visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament after I’m done seeing Creighton clients in the evenings. This is in addition to the numerous occasions I have to lift up any physical pain I experience for loved ones or others I know who need conversion.
And this is my current bedtime routine (after praying with Gary and the kids):
• THE POWER OF A PRAYING WIFE by Stormie Omartian – A little devotional book one of my clients gave me – I write my own personal prayer for Gary in the book, too! I love these short prayers because they truly focus in on all the details of my husband’s life. I has kept me united in spirit with him in a way that we’ve never connected before, as I’ve asked God to cover and bless everything about him and what he goes through that I may not understand or even know about.
• IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas a Kempis – I’m also trying to read more classic spiritual books, and this one was both one of St. Therese’s favorites as well as my dad’s. I use the iPieta app so I can copy and paste the tidbits that really strike my heart. I have a Facebook album of quotes for each chapter.
• 33 DAYS TO MORNING GLORY: Preparation for Total Consecration to Jesus Through Mary by Fr. Michael Gaitley – It’s an AMAZING book jam-packed with spiritual gems from some of my favorite saints! I made a FB album for this, too! Not only is this helpful for me to look back on when I need to revisit the messages, it becomes a spiritual “memory book” of sorts for me and keeps me accountable to doing the meditations every day.
The Evening routine is the one that evolves depending on what I need at the moment. When I’m finished with these books, I’ll need to search for other devotional reading that will speak to the particular circumstances I am dealing with.
When things get really bad, I just keep saying His name, “Jesus…Jesus…Jesus” through my tears because it is the name of Jesus and only His name that can deliver me out of darkness and despair.
Prayer is the life-blood of my soul. If I decided to stop praying, my spirit would shrivel up and waste away, very much like a neglected plant without water or a body without breath. It looks like a lot, but it only takes about 15 minutes at most to get through the Morning routine and just as long for the Evening prayers. It’s not realistic for me to get in a solid uninterrupted Holy Hour like I did when I was single and going through the Ignatian Spiritual Exercises, but now that I have my own children it’s nice for them to see me praying throughout the day and keeping my personal relationship with Jesus a priority.
In the past, it was hard for me to develop a regular prayer schedule. Working at a Catholic school helped since we had to pray certain prayers at certain times, but I knew that I needed something for me…something I could do on my own apart from my job so that I could more clearly hear God’s voice in my heart. It was a gradual working up to what I do now – very much as it would be when you start exercising – but these prayers and meditations really do give me the peace and the strength I need to carry out His will in all aspects of my life.
So if you’re thinking about getting a routine together, start simple and do what your heart calls for. The important thing is that you are consistent. Don’t stop praying just because you don’t feel like it because you’ll fall back into that spiritual funk really quickly, and it’s hard to get out of when you’ve given it up for so long. Before you know it, you’ll notice a difference in how you react to life’s challenges…you’ll be more aware of those daily blessings and miracles that happen all around you…and you’ll see the fruits of your prayers in every relationship that you have.
LIFE IS SHORT. PRAY HARD.