Hold on, let me go dig out my can opener. This can of worms is a massive topic and I will certainly not address it all in just one post.
Eons ago, when I just had one child, I attended a mother’s group at our parish in Carmel. The moms around the table were seasoned vets: moms of 11, 8, 6, 4 and 2; moms who had experienced loss through stillbirth and miscarriage; moms who had suffered infertility. They were a wealth of information. Oh, if only I had written down everything I heard. Our topic that day happened to be on prayer and how to integrate it into your day as a woman of God and with your children. One of the moms pulled out her TWO-PAGE listing of all the prayers she said with her children each day. Whoa. I was barely able to utter out a Hail Mary and some Our Fathers and I only had one child!
I am so not worthy, I thought.
Then she said, “But we didn’t start out that way.”
And I breathed out a sigh of relief.
You see, some days we really do a bang up job of praying. Other days, um, yeah. I would love to tell you that my prayer life is awesome. It isn’t. I would love to tell you I’ve figured out the secret to integrating prayer into everything. I haven’t. I can give you the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten, though. This came from a dear priest whom I adore. As I lamented during confession one day about how my prayer life was in the toilet, he reminded me: “Pray like a mom, not like a nun.”
It was a revelation. In essence, Fr. David was reminding me to embrace my vocation. All these hours, days, YEARS, I had struggled to find the half-hour window to pray. Inevitably, that’s when the baby started throwing up or when a child reminded me about a homework project they hadn’t started. What’s that? Someone just spilled their milk? The TV went out? It’s raining outside? WHEN WOULD I EVER FIND THE TIME? But, praying like a Mom. That I could do.
As you wash the dishes, offer up a prayer of thanksgiving for enough food to eat.
As you wipe a hiney for the 8,000th time, tell God you are grateful to have a child who depends on you for everything.
As you throw in a load of laundry, offer it up for someone else’s suffering.
As you take out the trash, think of the homeless who see it as treasure.
Prayer really is all around us.
We no longer listen to junk on the radio. Austin has a great Christian radio station and my kids love singing along. If I happen to be in Scott’s car in the evenings, Will and I tune into the Busted Halo Show with Fr. Dave Dwyer on the Catholic Channel. If you are what you eat, physically, then the same is true spiritually. If you listen to junk, that’s what your feeding your soul. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of the 80s channel on XM. Feeds my inner teenager. But, it’s not my default. Sometimes, we listen to nothing at all. Just silence. Some of my best prayers to God have been in the silence of my van.
Each morning, Scott and I, independent of one another, read Living Faith. It’s a super-short devotional/reflection on that day’s scripture reading. I love it and it always speaks to what’s weighing on my heart.
At dinner, we employed the “Best & Worst” sharing time where we all share the “best” and “worst” parts of our day. Often, that’s when we really get some invaluable insight into our children’s lives. We also keep all the Christmas cards we receive each year and pull one out each evening. I blogged all about that during Advent. It’s a great tradition.
We pray with our children before bed. But instead of just reciting the prayers, we also ask them what they’re thankful for that day. Or, if they have any special prayer requests.
Several years ago, Scott and I used to pray Night Prayer with one another. We’ve fallen out of that habit and I miss it. Our plan is to bring it back in earnest this spring. If you’re not familiar with the Liturgy of the Hours, you should get familiar. Our teenagers at our former parish in Indiana introduced us to it. What awesome kids. LOTH is typically prayed by religious/priests every day at specific times during the day. There is turning of pages and some of the same prayers, but I am so not coordinated like that. I cheat and use my iPhone app. YES! There’s an app for that, RC Calendar. It lists the prayers, any special saint days and any other background information about the saint of the day. Last fall, during the fifth grade field trip, I busted out the app and prayed night prayer with my cabin. It was awe-some.
I tell you all of this to say…I have so much more growing and learning to do. The things I mentioned just really scratch the surface of prayer. It comes in so many forms. Last night, at the Catholic Schools event, our keynote speaker encouraged us to find one thing in Mass that inspired us each week. Just one thing.
My thing today? “You must invest in your relationship with God.”
It came at a perfect time. The reminder was there all along. Now that we’ve invested in our physical well-being, it’s time for Scott and I to invest our spiritual well-being. Oh, I smell a Lenten promise coming 🙂