I hate to tell you this, but you’re going to have to pray today.
Any Lenten penance you’re doing—any fasting, any sacrifice, any alsmgiving, any good works —these are all very well. But if you’re not praying regularly, all your efforts are like buying someone a present, wrapping it carefully with a big, beautiful bow, and then putting it away in a closet forever. It’s like cooking someone the perfect omelette and then leaving it in the pan. It’s like calling someone your best friend and then—well, not talking to him.
Praying is hard work. Praying is boring. Praying makes you feel silly, and you don’t do it very well. So what? Do it anyway, because if you’re not, you’re like a gerbil running around the house in an exercise ball: all that running may get you somewhere, but what are you going to do when you get there? You’re still inside your little world. What you need is to make contact with the outside.
If you already pray regularly, then Lent is the time to increase and deepen your prayer life. But if you rarely pray, or if your prayer life is comes and goes, then Lent is the time to commit to daily prayer, even if it’s just something short.
Psalm 51, which was the responsorial Psalm on Ash Wednesday, makes a wonderful morning prayer. It’s easy to memorize, simple, rhythmic, and comprehensive:
A clean heart create for me, o God,
and a steadfast spirit renew within me.
Cast me not out from your presence,
And your holy spirit take not from me.
Give me back the joy of your salvation
And a willing spirit sustain within me.
Just do it! Even if you’re in a state of mortal sin, prayer starts to put the brakes on the free fall. Don’t wait until you can do it right. Just pray.