Prayer is one of those tenants of faith that is so basic that it becomes easy to gloss over or take for granted. We are exhorted in Matthew’s gospel to pray always. How many of us actually follow through on this, though? And what does that mean anyway? It’s not possible to pray always, unless you happen to live in a monastic community where that’s your job or you are independently wealthy and can devote all your time to paying. I mean, we’re all busy, right? Who has time these days to sit around praying all the time? I barely have time to eat between everything else that I need to be doing.
Or is that just what the world wants you to believe? I submit to you an idea: that not only is it possible, but it is actually manageable regardless of who you are or what your time constraints happen to be. It’s quite simple, really. The whole thing boils down to creating habits. In this case, we’re creating positive habits; habits that are of benefit to our spiritual lives. The first part of this process is to carve out some time each day and set it aside for prayer. It doesn’t have to be much – 15 minutes at most. This time also can be crammed in anywhere in your day. It could be your morning commute, your lunch break, just after you wake up in the morning or just before bed. Personally, I recommend using the time just before bed for prayer, at least in part because our goal is to create a habit and since habits are at least partially based on activities, you’ll be associating your prayer time with an activity that isn’t dependent on the day of the week.
I’ve recently begun praying the Litugy of the Hours, which is a series of prayers and psalms designed to offer a set structure to your prayer life.Typically the Liturgy is prayed by priests, deacons, and members of religious orders, but it is referred to as the prayer of the Church because it is available for anyone to use and pray. The structure is such that there are set prayers for morning, mid-morning, midday, mid-afternoon, evening, and night. Looking at that, you might be inclined to dismiss it as too much to fit into your schedule, but there are very few people who actually pray all of the hours every day. Personally, I pray morning and evening prayers from the Liturgy. If I feel the need and have time, I may add one of the hours during the day. The point is that you can use as much or as little as you want from it. It’s not for everybody, though, so you may find it doesn’t work for you. If it doesn’t, try the rosary. Or maybe just spend time reading scripture in a prayerful manner. The idea is to devote time on a daily basis to prayer. Once you start doing so, I assure you that you will find yourself drawing closer to God. The closer you draw to God, the more you will want to draw closer to God, and the easier this type of devotion becomes. I firmly believe that this is one of the key elements in a healthy spiritual life, and should be pursued by anyone who wants to increase their devotion to God. May you find it as spiritually rewarding as I have. God bless you.