The most important thing about a new habit is to start small and make it doable. It might be a wonderful idea to start making a holy hour of prayer every day, but how many of us can add an extra hour into our crazy, busy lives? But if that is our goal, we can get there if we start with baby steps. Starting off with 5 minutes a day, at an established time and building the habit we can do wonders!
So to start a new habit, we have to know clearly two things:
What will the habit be? and when will this habit happen?
Here are some ideas on new prayer habits, along with an idea on when you can do them. These are practical, tested ideas that can work. Read through the list, ask God to show you ONE that is for you. Tweak it in any way and Own It.
What: Morning Prayers When: in the car on your way to work or school, with or without the kids. We pray the morning offering each day as soon as we get in the car. We have also been adding a new prayer or scripture each month to increase memorization. Just keep a written copy in the front seat to read/pray until you memorize it. You can also say it into the Voice Memo on your phone and listen to it. (CLICK HERE for ideas for a prayer for each month) Bonus for those with kids in the car: it removes the usual arguing among the siblings!
What: Meal Prayers When: Every Meal, eaten in the home or in a restaurant or in the car (let's be real!)
Decide whether you will say an extemporaneous prayer or a traditional prayer ("Bless us O Lord and these thy gifts which we are about to receive, from thy bounty, though Christ, Our Lord, Amen") and then don't even pick up a bite of food until you pray.
Evening Prayer, especially Family Rosary When: before bed This can be really hard with many children and activities. The only way to make it happen is to ask for God's grace, set a time and "just do it." The family that prays together stays together as Fr. Peyton rightly quipped. Start with a short prayer and get it down regularly. Then reach for a longer prayer like the rosary.
What: Daily Mass When: check local mass times using www.masstimes.org
Daily mass is a great holy habit. Not only is the mass the source and summit of our faith, it is at a fixed time, that you can build in to your day/week. To begin this habit, just add ONE daily mass a week (like every Friday) Daily masses are only 30 minutes. Make it a non-negotiable, just like a business appointment, earlier in the day the better. Put it on all the Fridays (or whatever day works for you) on your calendar and book other things around it. When you get to lent, add a second or third day per week!
What: Personal Prayer time and going deeper in Scripture When: Before anyone else is awake, or after they've all gone to sleep.
Earlier is always better. Start with just 5 minutes. Call upon the Holy Spirit to enlighten your mind. Start with one of the gospels and read just a few verses. Ponder them, chew on them, visualize them. Re-read them. Ask God to reveal to you something about Himself. Praise Him, Thank Him, present any needs to Him. Say one Our Father and stop. Keep it at 5 minutes every day for at least a month before you try to pray longer.
What: Singing When: Anytime, anyplace To sing is to pray twice, so why not keep a song in your heart all the time. Spirit FM 90.5 FM Tampa (or online at www.spiritfm905.com )is a great radio station to tune into. Just hook one song in your head at the beginning of the day, and you are praying all day long as you hum it, sing it, tap it, and pray it. A great CD to keep with you is Praying Twice. CLICK HERE to get a copy.
A better prayer life just won't happen because I wish it to happen. I have to plan times and set reminders until it becomes habit! Starting small and getting into a regular habit is the only way. Remember, just pick ONE thing to start with. All of the ideas above are to give you options to find something that will work for you and your family, right now.
St Paul says pray without ceasing! Pope Benedict has called us to a Year of Faith. Let's dive into it, improve our prayer life and learn our faith better, love it more and share it with others! Happy New Year and God Bless you in 2013.
The Lighthouse Catholic Media January CD of the Month title is "Pray like a Saint" by Matthew Leonard. Great advice and techniques for beginner or advanced "pray-ers" CLICK HERE to join the club by January 15 to receive this title