Simcha Fisher, author of The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning writes for several publications and blogs daily at Aleteia. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and ten children. Without supernatural aid, she would hardly be a human being.
Do you have that "Easter Sunday's gone . . . now what?" feeling? After the Lord is risen, but before He ascends again is a great time to get in the habit of talking to Him regularly. We all know we need to pray daily, but it's horribly easy to get out of the habit. St. Peter's list has a great little feature: 16 Practical Tips for Creating and Maintaining Your Daily Prayer Habit. "Practical tips" are my love language! These are achievable ideas that takes in to account all kinds of personalities and all kinds of lifestyles.
I'm an idiot, and will avoid prayer if I can get away with it, even though I know it will make me miserable and weak. I'm extremely resistant to change; so for me, sticking to daily prayer is all about linking it to things I can't avoid and habits I already have. Here's how I make sure I never have a prayerless day:
Pray before you do the thing you always find time to do. No Facebook until I've made, at very least, a morning offering. There is more humility in saying, "Lord, I offer this day up to you, and that's all I got, because I suck," than "I need to make a sincere and thorough morning offering, which I will do as soon as I'm in the proper frame of mind, which I will work on achieving as soon as I dispense with these emails, and -- oh, gosh, I never printed out that thing that I need to scan and return, and -- oh, nuts, we're out of paper. I'll write it on the list. Now, where's a pen? Why are there never pens in this house? My life is so chaotic! Ugh, the heck with this, I'm going on Facebook." If I have to pray first, then at least I've gotten one thing done; and, more often than not, stopping to pray helps everything else fall into place.
Pray along with the thing you can't get out of. No radio in the van until I've said a Hail Mary for each kid, me and my husband, and anyone else who's on the top of the prayer intentions list. If I'm super distracted, I will let myself get away with a "one for all" Hail Mary. Ditto for getting on my treadmill: No music until I've said my morning prayers. There are occasional days when I don't drive or get on my treadmill, but they are rare.
Make the sign of the cross when you pass a church. This used to feel like an obligation to me, and I did it just as a discipline; but lately it feels like a little energy boost, like picking up tokens in a video game. Ding ding ding! I just got more life on my way to the supermarket.
When I talk to somene or think of someone who needs prayer, I do it right then and there. Better to do a quick and sincere "Lord, So-and-so is dealing with such-and-such. In Jesus' name, please help," than a promise to say a rosary that may or may not materialize. Realizing someone needs prayer is breathing in; saying the prayer is breathing out. Done.
Subscribe, so your prayers or spiritual reading pop up right in front of you. I have "Catechism in a Year" and "Gospel in a Year" email subscriptions, which I used for a while, but now I just tend to mark them "read" along with the notices that shoes are on sale and my Allstate agent is thinking of me. This is a me problem! Still a good principle. Be a sneak and sign your kids up for it.
Turn your kids into sticklers. Most kids love routine -- and by "love," I mean they will freak the heck out if you depart from it. My one-year-old is a little thug who will not let us get away without saying grace; and my seven-year-old gets tearful if we send her to bed without evening prayers. The older kids harrass me into saying a "Hail Mary" if they're in the car when we hear a siren. Trapped by my own excellent parenting!
Liturgy of the Hours . . . sorta. Warning: the Liturgy of the Hours is a lot of praying! I'm way too lazy to do it all; but having it right there on my ever-present iPad means that, when I get that little interior nudge, I can easily open up the app and at least say the antiphons. Spontaneous prayer is great, but sometimes I just don't have anything to say. The prayers of the Liturgy of the Hours change every day, so I'm not tempted to zone out; and if the theme or topic is somethign that doesn't apply to me -- if it's joyful when I'm feeling bad, or lamentations when I'm having a wonderful day -- I just assume that some other memeber of the Body of Christ needs those words spoken.
Now I just need to download iBreviary, so I need to find a kid to tell me what my passowords is. Ugh, I'll just go on Facebook, and check out . . .
Wait. Okay, fine. Hail Mary . . .