How do you pray?

How do you find any time to pray?

I was asked this question recently and didn’t know how to answer. I just do I said, but over the past few weeks I have been giving it a lot of thought.

I know my prayer time has changed over time. When I had mostly little kids – the older kids, and the toddlers and the nursing baby my prayers were mostly urgent pleas for patience – RIGHT NOW!

I said drowsy prayers and rosaries as I nursed and relied on the words of my Mom and the nuns who taught me – “Your guardian angel will finish your prayers if you fall asleep before finishing them.”

For a few years, back then, my prayers were all offered along with Daily Mass at St. Michael’s in Baltimore. I was able to go most mornings and returned home afterwards – not remembering to pray again until I fell into bed. Matt and I would say our evening prayers holding hands as we fell asleep tired from another hard day: his work, my homeschooling and both of us raising our increasingly larger family.

Now, my prayer time can be more committed. No more babies (sigh) so I am able to set aside time each day. Many days again back at Daily Mass (sometimes with my kids, sometimes alone). I make time alone in my room for at least 15 minutes (sometimes with the readings of the day, sometimes just with the Bible). And again as Matt and I fall asleep – holding hands while praying both from our hearts and from our memory.

Prayers from our memory are all those we know without any effort – the Our Father, the Hail Mary, St. Michael’s, Magnificat, etc. When asked to pray for someone via an email these quickly come to mind. These are the ones that make up our family’s bedtime prayers.

Prayers from our heart are those we say from deep within – prayers of joy when good news arrives “Thank You Jesus for a healthy baby”, prayers of sadness, “Lord, please watch over and protect those injured in the accident…” and so on.

These words prayed from our heart have the chance become one long conversation with Jesus, His Mother or our Father, God; all day long. We tell them how we feel, how much we love them and our fears, anger and, yes, our hopes and expectations.

These are the prayers I say most often. I stopped listening to radio while driving years ago. It was part of my Lenten sacrifice that soon became my habit. Now, as I drive I talk to Jesus. Most often out loud. This is my version of “pray without ceasing” St. Paul talks about.

I have asked God to turn all of my random thoughts, worries and concerns into prayers to Him; and I know He has. I see butterflies (or hummingbirds, or stars or flowers or small babies or….) I say “thank you” to the Lord who sent them my way. I get a call of concern from my son at college and ask God to listen in and send His grace and strength. When I encounter a young Mom withe a crying child at the grocery story, much like I was once, I pray a prayer of patience for her.

In other words, if you worry about making time to pray, first remember to give God permission to see your every encounter, read your every thought, overhear each of your conversations and inspire you with every step and action you take. Tell Him He has your permission – fully and heart felt – to turn everything you do as a small prayer back to Him.

Of course, we know He already does this as He is omnipotent and omniscient! But when we actually open the doors of heart and mind to Him, telling Him “Come right in! Please, take over my entire life and everything I do and say!”, prayer becomes a whole different thing.

How do I pray? With every breath in I ask for His mercy and forgiveness and with every breath out I thank Him for his grace and power. And, sometimes, I even remember to say that out loud.

How do you pray?

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