Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Staying on Track
What about my 'prayer train?' (we may be asking after yesterday's post). I don't live in a monastery. No one rings a bell that, in essence, gives me permission to drop everything and take half an hour for prayer in the middle of the day. I live out here where families need feeding, babies need diapering, and bosses want reports in by twelve o'clock sharp.
Those in monasteries can usually pray at the same times. But 'out here,' everyone is going in a hundred different directions at once.
So what about me? If I want a foundation of prayer to be the basis of my life, how do I stay on track?
In his book The Fulfillment of All Desire, Ralph Martin defines prayer as 'at root, simply paying attention to God.' (p. 121).
Oh, I do love this.
So: I begin my day by paying attention to God. Usually it's uttering a brief spontaneous sentence or two.
Ideally I can then find time, later, to sit down with Scripture and give Our Lord my undivided attention. I am finding the Liturgy of the Hours to be a great help with this. I also find that all too often I come to this practice tired, distracted, and having fought (or going in while still fighting) the temptation to 'put it off.' Oh, I wish I didn't have to admit that! But it's simply the truth, and you know what? I've also learned that when I forge on past the distractions, when I carry on no matter how tired I may be, I wind up with a sense that God is pleased. I also have some pleasant surprises at times - inspirations I could never have had otherwise.
Do I pray the entire Liturgy of the Hours every day? No. But if I try to pray at least one psalm from it, sometime during the day and with my full attention, usually I wind up praying longer ... and then the next time, longer still.
Because I don't live in a physical monastery, I cannot expect to adhere to the regular by-the-bell prayer times of those who do. God does not expect this. He expects me to live the vocation He has given me. In that vocation, however, He does ask that I 'pay attention to Him.'
With His help, I can get past the hurdles and do so.
With His help, I am able to stay on track.
Painting at top of post: Hans Baluschek Großstadtbahnhof, in US public domain due to age
Photo of tracks in public domain
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