This Simple New Year’s Resolution Will Change Your Year, Your Life, Your Eternity

‘Prayer is the only channel,’ says St. Teresa of Ávila, ‘through which God's great graces and favors may flow into the soul’

François Gérard, “St. Teresa of Ávila,” 1827
François Gérard, “St. Teresa of Ávila,” 1827 (photo: Public Domain)

It’s free. It takes no extra time in your daily schedule. Even if you’ve already made a resolution, this one is practically effortless to add — a matter of seconds that you won’t miss. And the benefits reach into eternity.

What is it? Take the open pockets in your life — waiting for the microwave, a red light, standing in line, waiting for someone to answer the phone, and so forth — and talk with Jesus. It can be just three seconds such as, Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, or Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything. You can even make it just one second: Praise you, Jesus! Or have a word with him — whatever you want to say.

The moment of prayer can certainly be longer, but it doesn’t have to be. No one can say they are too busy to connect with God during the day with this formula. Even if you add just a few seconds of communication several times during the day, you are drawing closer to God and opening yourself up to his gifts for you. By creating prayer triggers for this — moments that become habits to communicate with Jesus — it becomes automatic.

Writing this article, I realize I have plenty of pockets in my life I can still easily fill, but I also have a prayer trigger that has lasted around eight years. Whenever I water a geranium houseplant given to me on a birthday by a fellow parishioner who owns a greenhouse, I say a Hail Mary for him. It’s an automatic reflex. A few years ago, when I told him he was getting all those Hail Marys, he started bringing me a poinsettia every Christmas. The first time, I laughed and said, “Okay, you get a second Hail Mary during watering.” They keep coming every year now. By a conservative estimate, watering the plant twice a week and not even counting the poinsettia, he has gained well over 830 prayers.

What else are you doing during such times? Probably nothing. Or at least nothing that you can remember. Talking to Jesus instead is a beautiful thing. How beautiful?

St. Faustina would know, having communicated directly with Jesus through visions and been given the Divine Mercy devotion. In her Diary (146) she writes:

A soul arms itself by prayer for all kinds of combat. In whatever state the soul may be, it ought to pray. A soul that is pure and beautiful must pray, or it will lose its beauty; a soul that is striving after this purity must pray, or else it will never attain it; a soul that is newly converted must pray, or else it will fall again; a sinful soul, plunged in sins, must pray so that it might rise again. There is no soul which is not bound to pray, for every single grace comes to the soul through prayer.

Every saint filled their life with prayer. We may not be at the saint level, but we can find little places to start or to build on what we already do. Here are a few quotes for incentive:

  • “Prayer is the inner bath of love into which the soul plunges itself.” —St. Jean-Marie Baptiste Vianney
  •  “Prayer is the only channel through which God's great graces and favors may flow into the soul; and if this be once closed, I know no other way he can communicate them.” —St. Teresa of Jesus
  •  “He who prays most receives most.” —St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori

Prayer is about relationship, not just asking for things. It’s a lesson for our children to stay in touch with Jesus throughout the day, so that they see him as a friend and companion and not a wish-fulfillment center.

The best part about making a resolution to fill in a few blank spots by talking with Jesus — not to exclude the Blessed Mother and angels and saints in conversations too — is that the payoff begins right away. And later, if you get off track, you won’t have lost any money and can begin again immediately.