Tag Archives: prayer

What do you want of me, Lord?

Standard

Mary and Jesus

I came to the realization recently, in my countdown to age 30, that I’ve spent a substantial amount of time these past ten years trying to figure out just what I wanted to be. Heck, I’ve spent the better part of these past two weeks deciding what exactly I wanted to write about. Indecisiveness is easily in my characterization bracket. And if I know myself well enough, I’ll probably change my mind once I start typing.
For many, the dream of being a teacher, a police officer, firefighter, doctor, lawyer, professional athlete, etc. etc., began at a really young age. The dreams happened for me, too. At age 7, I wanted to be a teacher. By 11 or so, an architect.

When I realized my senior year of high school that I could barely get through pre calculus, that idea went out the window. I almost joined the Marine Corps in early 2001.

I started nursing pre requisetes in 2002. By 2005, I was so scatterbrained that I went back to school to finish a degree. And during and after that, I’ve worked another several jobs in various fields doing various things. All with hopes that I would find clarification.

What was it that I am supposed to be?

I was confused and things were tough. I was mentally exhausted from over thinking every. little. detail. But at the same time, I knew there must be something out there that is right for me.

And so finally, I did it. I asked God. I started praying constantly,

“What do you want of me, Lord?”

Sure enough around that time, my husband entered the picture. We married in July of 2008, and assumed we would “settle” into life for a while and wish for children after we’ve had time to “enjoy” being married. (Ya know, I’m still trying to figure this one out…….)

But we all know what happens when we make plans. God laughs at them and makes his own. When I saw the faintest of faint pink line on a First Response only six weeks later, I actually cried. I remember wondering how God could possibly entrust the care of a child to me already.

But He did.

God gave us a child and made me a mother! Here I was for years trying to decide for myself but He knew me best.

He wanted me to be a mom.

I remember the worry that followed. What will I do about work, how will we afford daycare, where will I deliver? We had just spent months planning the wedding and things turned into babyland really fast. And then our son was born.

What’s crazy is I don’t quite know when it hit me. I spent so much of my pregnancy distracted by the website, Babycenter, that I kept myself in denial. Sure, we were having a baby, and of course we were happy and excited, but little did I know…

He changed everything. All of a sudden light bulbs went off. I didn’t want to go back to work. I didn’t want to leave him. I just wanted to be a mother.

And I am.

A lot has changed in three years. We now have a daughter also, and I work nights waitressing. But I feel like I’m where I need to be.

It made me realize that I had spent so much time worrying about a career that my vocation took a backseat. Because once I finally “Let Go and Let God,” He put me just where He needed me to be.

Our Blessed Mother said, “I am the Handmaid of the Lord; Let it be to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

Heavenly Spam

Standard

Man… it’s been one of those weeks on the back of a couple of those weeks. You know the kind, when a trip to the restroom- away from whiny children, all these dogs that always want to eat, and people who ask all manner of questions like, “Why did you plug the extension cord into itself, Andrea?”* (I don’t know, Margot!)- feels like a mini-vacation? Yeah. The last few weeks have been super hectic- my husband separated from the military, we moved across the country, I got a new job, my toddler is entering his Terrible Twos with no holds barred, and in an unfortunate, distracted eyebrow-grooming session, I turned myself into Vanilla Ice.

Did I mention I start back to school today? Thank God for makeup, amiright?

Lately, I’ve just been turning my gaze heavenward and yelling saying “Pray for us!”. I’m not even specifying who I’m asking at this point, just hoping that somebody (or a few somebodies) will take pity on me.

Anywho, whining aside, this prayerful desperation reminds me of when I first started going to Mass after a lifetime of Protestantism, and how one of the lines (which is still one of my favorite parts of the Mass by the way) stuck out to me in a surprising way.

Which line, you ask? Why, here we go. The Penitential Act:

I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.

Maybe I’m just spiritually greedy, but I want as many people praying for me as possible. Mary, the saints, the angels, all of you… I’ll take what I can get. Lord knows I need it. Seriously- He really does.

After nearly 24 years of the Protestant mindset, this Catholic view of prayer has been eye-opening, to say the least. At first, I was all:

“Wait wait wait… you ask everyone to pray for you? Like… even the angels? Not just people you know and are still alive? If you ask them to pray for you, do they like… have to?”

I was hooked almost immediately. I pictured all of the saints and angels stopping what they were doing to pray for me, because I asked. I was pretty sure that after a while, their prayers for me would turn into “Ugh, Father… it’s her again. Who told her that she could ask us for our prayers, and why didn’t they tell her that she didn’t have to do it all the time? Does she know there are other people who might need prayers, too?”

I had to learn to find the (for me) fine line of prayerful enthusiasm and Heavenly spam. “Did you get that forward from Andrea? I just don’t even open prayers from her anymore.”

I kid… mostly. I don’t spam Heaven. Maybe I say that part of the Penitential Act louder than the other parishioners, but outside of Mass I keep it low-key. Ya know… just the few saints I really love. So, at my confirmation, when you discover that I am now:

Andrea Lynn Mary Therese Faustina Paul Peter Ignatius Irenaeus Augustine Monica Edith Stein

Don’t be surprised.

And if I get to Heaven as I hope I do, and find all these people trying very hard not to make eye-contact with me and saying things like “Did I remember to present those bowls of incense to God? Better check!” when they see me approaching… I won’t be surprised, either.

 

 

*As much as I wish I could say I made this up for humorous effect, the extension cord thing really, actually happened. I offer you the following photographic proof. Yes, I took a picture of it, because when you do something this unbelievable, you save it for posterity… and blog readers.

Extension Cord Fail

On my knees

Standard

Do you ever feel like God is testing your faith? I know God doesn’t test us, but there are times when I feel so strong in my faith that there is NOTHING that could shake it. These are the times when I am the weakest, I believe. And, typically, these are the times when I mess up royally.

Recently, we had family members and friends receive horrible medical diagnoses. I was able to remain positive. I was able to turn to God and focus on Him. I felt like these were tests of my faith, and I passed. Praying that the Lord would be with them and help them. (Is there “passing” in faith – and is that my place to decide? The answer is truly NO.)

Well, in the middle of patting myself on the back for my “strong” faith, my daddy had a stress test. Just a “baseline”-because-it-had-been-a-while-since-his-last-test test. He didn’t “pass.” He was scheduled for a cath procedure where they checked for blocks and placed stents. My world shook a little. This is my daddy, the one we all turn to for just about anything. My husband tried to point out that we needed to pray, but I wasn’t ready. I started to fall apart and went through that first evening feeling just a little “off,” needing to turn to the Lord, but not doing so just yet.

Thinking and talking about it later, I realized that when I try to stand strong, I am the weakest.  I really need to get down on my knees. The times when I feel so strong are when I am most vulnerable. These are the times when I need to turn to God first, get down on my knees and give Him my heart one more time. God is my strength and my courage. He is my rock. In Him I place my trust.

Out of time?

Pray first.

So many things going “wrong?”

Pray first.  

Are things going well?

Pray first. 🙂

“But He said to me,‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell within me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Dear Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.

Amen.

Prayer on Autopilot?

Standard

One afternoon in February of this year, I left work to go to an ultrasound appointment.  Little did I know that day that it would be my last day at the office for over five months!

To make a very long story short: I was 21 weeks pregnant with twins and this routine appointment led me to be admitted to the hospital, I had surgery the following day, and was ordered to bed-rest until the babies were born.  Luckily, we made it to 36 weeks (Halleluia!!) and welcomed two healthy boys into our family.

One month ago, I went back to work.  What a strange, strange feeling!!  I had not been there in so long.  In some ways it was like I had never left and nothing had changed; in others it felt like I had been gone forever.

One of the hardest things for me was something quite silly.  I couldn’t remember all the keyboard short-cuts I had taught myself over the years.  Due to problems I had developed years earlier in my wrists, I always look for ways to stay on the keyboard and not move back and forth between the keyboard and the mouse.  I had figured out so many short-cuts on my own through trial and error as well as by accident that I hardly ever used my mouse when in certain programs.  My first couple weeks back at work I worked a bit slower than what had been my usual pace and I found myself stopping more often to contemplate the keyboard, knowing there was a better way to do … whatever it was I was trying to do.

Then just this past week I made a break-through.  I realized that I had to stop thinking.  I needed to be on autopilot.  I shut off my brain and my fingers just knew what to do.  I found myself suddenly typing weird combinations of key strokes and wondering how I knew what I was doing.  The moment I tried to think about it, there would be hesitation.  I had to just stop and allow myself to go on autopilot.

Being on autopilot was exactly what I needed to do to get my “groove” back.  That’s one of the great things about being on autopilot.  I’m sure we’ve all had those moments.  But autopilot is not always a good thing.  Unfortunately it often happens in our prayer life.  I know it does mine and I’m sure it has infected everyone’s prayer life at some point or another … or it is right now.

Time to switch it off!!  Believe me, I know that is easier said than done!

At the same time that I was having this epiphany at work, my husband and I started putting the babies in their rockers/bouncers at the kitchen table with us so they could see us while we ate.  It’s funny how the way we pray the Prayer Before Meals changed when the babies were with us.  We said it slower, more deliberately; we said the sign of the cross fully and didn’t just do it on our own at the end.  It struck me that we are usually just on autopilot because we do it all the time, at every meal.

I mentioned this to my husband and he simply replied that of course we do it better, because the babies will need to learn.  True, but why aren’t we doing it better all the time; shouldn’t we be more deliberate in our prayer regularly, regardless of if the babies are present or not?

Interesting how this autopilot thing can be a blessing in some cases, but a hinderance in others.  I feel challenged now to turn off the autopilot while I pray, to allow the words to have more meaning to me and to really, fully understand them.  Have you ever stopped to think about the words you are saying when you recite the Creed at Mass?  I stumble over the Creed a lot more when I’m thinking about the words than I do when I just allow myself to say it out of habit.  It can be so easy to get into a habit and a routine, whether you are praying a standard prayer or praying in your own words.  Even praying in our own words can have a familiar routine that can also lose its meaning.

Are you also up for the challenge?  Have you sat back and re-examined your prayer life lately?  Do you, too, need to turn autopilot off in your prayer life?

Prayer Changes Things

Standard

Last week was a long week.  On Monday my oldest son had ear surgery, my second son left our homeschool for Catholic schools, my mother in law came to help out with both of those transitions, my husband started the second year of his PhD program, and we celebrated two birthdays.  It was a busy week!

Busy weeks are easy weeks to get lost in.  It is easy to steal a few more moments of sleep or get up early for more hours in the day for laundry, dishes, and household tasks.  It is easy to put prayer aside for more productive work.  (I also find it is sometimes easy to put children aside in the same way when we get busy, but that is a topic for another post.)

One thing I’ve noticed about prayer is that God will find us even when we aren’t looking for Him.  Even when we are lost in our thoughts and our hurried lives, the Holy Spirit will sneak into our everyday lives if we are accustomed to looking.

For me this last week two such reminders snuck their way into a frantic Friday trip to the store for school supplies lost or forgotten.  Surrounded by four little ones who weren’t interested in anything more than finishing as quickly as possible, I took an extra moment to browse through the clearance section in case there was anything begging for a new home.  Suddenly my 8 year old pointed up at a small statue tipped over on its side and said, “Hey, Mom!  That looks like a saint!”

Sure enough, Saint Francis of Assisi had been knocked on his side between cast off vases and bath towels.  Moments later we found a small green wall hanging with the words, “Prayer Changes Things” scripted across a simple wooden plaque.

In that moment I had to pause.  At the end of a busy week, mom needed to take a break and get on her knees.  (Figuratively in this case, I was in the middle of a department store…)  All week I had been chasing a never ended to-do list and here it turns out the Holy Spirit was chasing me.  God had my week under control if I could take a moment to offer it to Him and look for opportunities to serve my family instead of check one more thing off of my list.

All around me were four little ones, all of whom desperately needed a snack.  One of whom hadn’t had the chance to go home after school and take a rest.  Reevaluation of a plan was in order.  An earlier than normal dinner and deciding to skip a few of our stops didn’t completely solve the problem, but those two little changes definitely made a difference.  Our busy week had ended in different, unmet needs for each of my children but I wasn’t noticing because I was too busy trying to “finish”.
Prayer does change things and the thing I believe it changes most is me.  Taking the time for prayer helps me say no to my to-do list and yes to the extra snuggles and comfort that my children need in an unusually busy time.  Taking the time for prayer grants me confidence that I’m on the right path and a renewed dedication to work through my tasks when it is hard.  Prayer also pushes the pause button in activities that may not be the best use of my time.
St. Francis found his way to the top of my piano and a small green plaque found it’s way to the wall above my kitchen stove.   Reminders of the day the Holy Spirit tracked me down in the department store to remind me what number one on my to-do list needs to be even…maybe especially… during the most busy of weeks.

Commanded to Love Mary

Standard

As Catholics, we wholly love our triune God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  Every day  we attend mass we literally sit at the feet of our Lord Jesus, mystically united in time to the moment He gave His life for us on the cross.  Before the altar of the most Blessed Sacrament we are privileged to worship Him, thank Him, love Him, and depend on Him.  We are beside everyone that has ever attended the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, beside all of the angels, beside all of the saints, and beside everyone who was at the foot of His cross at Golgotha…  we are beside His Mother, Mary.

Jesus’s life was bookended with Mother Mary, she was present at His birth, and at His death.  Before God sent us our Savior, He first created the vessel by which that Savior would come.  Instead of celebrating Christmas each year, we could be celebrating the Descension of Jesus, or some other event by which God sent our Savior.  God’s plans are always perfect and always have more meaning than we can ever humanly fathom.  In all of His infinite wisdom and in His love for us, God included a mere human in His plan for our salvation.  Our Father gave Himself a human mother.

In the book of John it is recorded that during the Last Supper Jesus reminded his disciples, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.” In fact, He mentioned keeping the commandments many times.  The first three commandments all deal with how we are to have a relationship with our Lord.  Then, surprisingly, the fourth commandment, listed before don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t bear false witness… is to honor your father and mother.  This particular commandment is oddly out of place between the first three dictating proper worship of our Lord God and the latter six thou shall nots.  It must be important.

Jesus entrusts his mother to his disciple John.

We are commanded to honor our father and mother.  We are also called to follow Jesus as our example of Christian living.  Jesus lived a life perfectly without sin, He upheld every one of the ten commandments, daily.  He perfectly honored both His Father, our Lord God, and His Mother, Mary.  Isn’t it interesting that God created a commandment to honor our father and mother, then when He came down to Earth He provided Himself a mother which allowed Him to perfectly fulfill the fourth commandment?  In His plan for our salvation, God submitted Himself to honoring a human.  Jesus showed us how to perfectly follow the first commandment and all the while have the most perfect honor for His mother with the fourth commandment. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle at the behest of Mother Mary (John 2), and while hanging on the cross He made sure not to expire before arranging proper care for her (John 19).  He did not shy away from loving His mother out of fear of offending His Father.  He did not ignore His mother or feel indifferent toward her.  Jesus was still submitting Himself to honoring His mother while dying to provide us eternal life, that is how important she is to Him.  He wholly and perfectly loves His mother out of His love for His Father.

So, how is your relationship with Mary?  Do you forget she’s even there?  Imagine a family in which, day after day, the children lovingly flock to the father while it is as if their adoring mother is not even in the room.  Imagine the pain God must feel when day after day we ignore or even actively reject the Mother He gave Himself, the Mother that He loves with a child-like love, the Mother that He commands us to love.  Your relationship with Mother Mary should be a proportionate indicator of your love for Our Father.

Don’t know how to begin a relationship with Our Lady?  Pray for God to assist you in beginning a relationship with His Mother.  Remember to talk with Mary at mass, as she is there beside you, at the foot of Her Son’s holy cross.  Ask for her prayers.  Ask her to pray for you to have a devotion to the Father like the devotion she is privileged to have.  Ask both Our Lady and Our Father for forgiveness for not including her in your life the way we are commanded to.

Hail Mary, full of Grace, the Lord is with you.  Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.  Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.  Amen.

Please share about your relationship with Our Lord’s most blessed Mother!

Everything for the love of Him

Standard

How can I cultivate my relationship with God more? That thought runs through my mind frequently- usually when I crash on the couch after a busy day of chasing my toddler, two dogs, doing housework… you know the drill. I’m often sheepish by the time bedtime rolls around at how little my mind has turned towards God- or, in the times it did, it was to whine petitions in His direction.

Oh sure, I have grand plans. “I’m going to start praying the Liturgy of the Hours!” I’ll tell myself. Or, “Every day at 3-o’-clock I will sit down and pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy.” That… doesn’t always work out so well. How can we be in the world, fulfilling our vocations and still pursue God with the love and attention we ought? How can I change my mindset to “What can I do for You today, God?” from “This is what You can do for me today, God.” Brother Lawrence offers this solution:

People seek methods of learning to know God. Is it not much shorter and more direct to simply do everything for the love of Him? There is no finesse about it. One only has to do it generously and simply.

Cristo Redentor

Cristo Redentor

This… I love this. This I can do. I say “Everything for the love of Him” to myself like a day-long litany, trying to keep God in the forefront of my mind. My husband grabbed the wrong (scent-less?!) fabric softener at the store? Bite my tongue for the love of Him. My son is being whiny and I want to snap at him? Take time to be patient, for the love of Him. My friend had a bad day and wants to vent but I really don’t feel like listening? Take time for her, for the love of Him. And the list goes on and on.

I’ve found that when I’m doing things for the love of God- I’m not doing them for myself, or any perceived rewards that could kick back my way. It’s in this mindset that love has fertile ground to grow. Loving God (who is love) is a beautiful paradox- because the more love you give Him, the more love is available to you and in you for others. You withdraw love from your love account to give to Him, and find that your balance of love keeps getting higher. When you love someone, you care about what they care about. In my life, that’s fleshed out in surprising ways. When some lady cuts me off and I want to lay on my horn and mean-mug her when we get to the light, I remember that she’s someone really important to God, and I love Him. With that perspective, I’ve found the two great commandments (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”) are realized. If she- or anyone, for that matter- is important enough to God that He came and died for her, who am I to be uncharitable?

Doing everything you do- no matter how small- for the love of God puts us into the mindset of a servant of all- which is what Jesus calls us to be. It’s not always easy, and it’s certainy not always fun, but on days when I really try (with varying success) to do everything for the love of God, by the time bedtime rolls around, my heart is overflowing with love for God and others. I have peace. My family is content. It’s not complicated, because it only requires one thing: dying to self.

I hope that one day (soon, God willing) I’ll be disciplined enough to pray the Liturgy of the Hours and daily Divine Mercy Chaplets. I hope that I’ll get better at carving time out of my day to turn my heart towards God and really listen for Him. In the meantime, I will try my hardest to do everything for the love of Him.

Dying to Self- A personal lesson in trust and humility

Standard

It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. (Deuteronomy 31:8)

I was so ashamed of myself this week.

I’m a new mother and wife of only two years. I married a man who came with a lot of consumer debt. He is a teacher, a job by his own admission is a labor of love rather than a get-rich-quick job. I also have Crohns Disease so in our short married life, we have accumulated a lot of debt- house, car, medical, unexpected pregnancy two weeks into our marriage (the result being a beautiful now-18 month old son).

Taking inspiration from my parents’ trust in the intercession of St. Joseph for desperate financial situations, my husband Andrew and I have done the same. And St. Joseph and Our Lord never failed us. In every desperate situation, we have somehow pulled through. With nothing more than a few dollars in the bank, we managed to always have a fully stocked pantry and all bills paid on time. And every time we have prayed to St. Joseph, he has worked miracles. I’m talking literally with 2-3 days. We’ve had an escrow check come in at an opportune time when our vehicle needed repair. We’ve found money in a winter coat, received a “late Christmas gift” in April from a family member, had a forgotten expense check suddenly mailed to my husband. I found a small part-time work from home job that added money to our monthly salary. We have been blessed abundantly and then some.

So given God and St. Joseph’s track record, I’m ashamed to say I still had doubts.

I don’t know if it was pregnancy hormones, but I had been stressing for the last three months on how we were going to pay for our newest addition. My emotions stretched from the occasional thought of “where is the money going to come from?” to full blown “I’m going to have to give my baby up for adoption.” We were facing a potential job change, a school board threatening to lower base salaries for the first time in history in Texas, and my husband’s 10 year old debt collections starting to come in. Our baby was going to cost around $3,000 to birth- with barely enough to make bills and nothing in savings we were desperate to change expenses. We have been following Dave Ramsey’s debt-free plan but we were still at Baby Step One- saving that elusive $1k emergency fund. Another pregnancy was NOT on in the near future, at least for 3-4 years.

And then I found out I was pregnant- the ultimate test from God on our submission to His will.

But in my panic, I doubted. I was stupid enough to think we could do this on our own, and for the first time in our married life, I had a huge argument with my husband. He couldn’t believe that money was more important than embracing this new life we had been given. And he was right. I couldn’t see a way out, and, in my pride, forgot the One that kept us afloat in the first place.

But God is a God of mercy. And rather than punish my unbelief, He chose to bless us more abundantly. The next day, a refinance loan for our car was approved…after having been rejected over and over the last year for a refinance. That move alone saved us $100 a month. The school board voted to sustain salaries, so rather than the $2,000 pay cut we anticipated in our Quicken budget, we were able to add that money back. We found out our cell phone contract was expiring in a month- we would finally be able to transfer to a cheaper plan. After all was said and done with readjustments and savings, we found an extra $700 a month on my husband’s salary alone. By our projections, we will have enough for the baby and then some within a few short months. I was just stunned. I still am. And I feel incredibly stupid.

How often has God proved Himself over and over again, only to have us follow our own selfish pride and “do-it-yourself” arrogance? When I look at our human inclination to give “an eye for an eye,” how fortunate are we that God is not a mere mortal. And what a powerful testament to His Love to have Him only return to bless us more abundantly. In what ways has God pulled you through despite your unbelief?

Trust in the Lord and do good; so you will live in the land, and enjoy security. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord; trust in him, and he will act. Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:3-5, 7a)

The Family That Prays Together…

Standard

We have all heard the phrase, “The family that prays together, stays together”.  How many of us though have ever really thought about what that phrase truly means?  How many of us have put the phrase into action?   As Catholics, praying together at Mass comes naturally.  But what about at home?  Does it come as easy to us?  Have we been taught to share our prayers with each other?  How often do we ask each other, “will you pray with me?” 

I have noticed that Protestants many times have a much easier time asking someone to come and pray with them.  I’m not talking about saying, “will you pray for me?” but literally taking someone by the hands and saying let’s pray about this right now.  I remember years ago when I went to a volunteer meeting at our local pregnancy resource center and at the end of the meeting one of the women came to me, took me by my hands and said, “I feel for some reason I am supposed to pray with you right now.  Can we pray together?”  Startled,  I shook my head yes, and I think I may have even whispered yes as she closed her eyes and began to pray out loud.  To say I was startled a little bit would be an understatement.  That night I went home and thought about why it shook me up so much.  I came to the conclusion that I had never been in a situation where someone wanted to pray with me instead of for me.  

I thought a lot about my upbringing in the Catholic faith.  Do we encourage prayer together outside of the Mass?  I know that I was never encouraged (I was never discouraged either) to pray with others with the exception of morning prayer at school and prayer before meals.  It made me a little bit sad.  I liked that the woman was so comfortable in her faith and prayer life that she could easily take my hands and say a heartfelt prayer for me.  It touched me and made me want something more. 

As the years have passed and I have tried to incorporate more prayer in my life I have also tried to incorporate it into my family’s life.  I want my children to always feel comfortable praying not only for someone but with someone.  I want them to be able to grasp the hands of another person and pray right then and there.  I want prayer to be ingrained in our lives so much that it is second nature to pray.   I have  gradually incorporated more prayer into our lives.  I thought I would share a few ways that perhaps you can as well.  As our children’s primary educators it is our duty to teach our children our faith and it is our duty to teach our children how to pray.

So, how can you bring more prayer into your family’s life?

  • Begin praying when your children are babies.  Pick a simple prayer and say it every night. 
  • Pray before and maybe even after meals.
  • As your children get older each night pray as a family and ask them what intentions they want to pray for.  You’ll be surprised at the prayer intentions on their hearts!
  • Have objects that are associated with prayer around your home: a bible, rosaries that the kids can handle, prayer cards, holy water, prayer books.
  • Set up a prayer table.  Make sure the prayer table has a special place in your home.   Place a crucifix, candles, a prayer box, perhaps a statue on the table.  Make it a special place they will want to visit.
  • Let your children see you pray!  Our children learn though seeing and when they see us in prayer they naturally turn to prayer as well.
  • When you hear of someone who has been hurt, or see a wreck, stop that minute and say a prayer as a family for the person in need, even if you don’t know them.
  • As time progresses at your nightly prayer introduce a new prayer.  It’s amazing how quickly our children learn prayers when they are said on a regular basis.
  • Pray the rosary.  If your children won’t sit still for a full rosary, pray a decade, but introduce them to the beauty of the rosary. Make sure each child has his or her own rosary to hold.
  • Allow your children to lead prayer.  Let them say either memorized prayers or ones that they make up.  Let their hearts lead them.
  • Pray quietly yourself and in private.  If we want to be able to teach our children to pray we must also be praying on our own. 
  • Pray with your spouse.  Nothing will bring a couple closer than praying together.  When your relationship is healthy and happy it helps the entire family be healthy and happy.

Prayer should be the of the center point of our day.    As St. Teresa of Avila  said, “Our Lord walks among the pots and the pans.”  This means that we can be in prayer no matter what we are doing.  Christ is present in Mass but he is also there when we are cleaning, running errands, sitting at our children’s ball practices… he’s always with us and always listening!   We should be in prayer throughout the day not just at Mass, at supper or at night before bed.   The more we immerse ourselves in prayer the easier it will be to approach someone, take their hands and say, “I would like to pray with you.”  If we start doing this in our own homes imagine how much easier it will be to approach a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger.   Jesus encouraged us to pray.  He gave us the Lord’s Prayer and even modeled praying for us.   What a tremendous blessing it is to be able to pray with and for each other!

How do you teach your children to pray? 

 

To Pray With Confidence

Standard

There is this part in Mass where the priest says: “And now, let us pray with confidence in the words our Savior gave us.” This is followed by the Our Father. I hear these words each week but, recently, they took on special meaning. While my father was in surgery, I stayed with my mother and we waited by her ipad (modern day pacing of hospital halls) for words from my brother who was at the hospital. My 2 1/2 year old daughter, perhaps sensing the tension and worry while playing in the room we were sitting in, heard us talking about “Poppy.” She said “Poppy’s going to be alright and he’s gonna come home.” Just like that.

From that moment, I decided, that rather than sit in worry, I should just pray with confidence that my father would recover. He came out of surgery in exactly the amount of time that the surgeon estimated and that was a great sign. However, I nearly fainted when I was able to see my father in ICU. He had so many tubes. I could see how uncomfortable he was and it broke my confidence. The next day, I held vigil with my siblings waiting for my father to come out of sedation. I could see that my brother, who is a physician, was concerned that there was a problem. I decided not to go to the hospital on the 3rd day because I was getting discouraged and my worry was clouding my ability to pray with confidence. Then, my sense of humor kicked in. I told my siblings that watching Dad recover was like watching paint dry and I was not going to sit by his bed for another day and watch him drool. They knew I was joking, but it was my way of saying to them this: He is going to be alright and he is going to come home! So, I stayed with my mother and I de-cluttered his side of the bed and his favorite areas of the house, getting ready for his return. The next morning, I got a text from my brother that said: Dad is back 100%!!!

Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~Hebrews 4:16