Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Revisiting Prayer Tracks

Because I don't live in a monastery, I hear no bells calling me to drop everything and take time 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 TheFulfillment 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 take 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.'  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.

I also continue to cultivate the habit of making aspirations - the short prayers we can offer to God in our hearts, no matter where we are or what we're doing.  'Jesus, I trust in You.'  'Father, I adore You.'  'Lord, I give You my heart.'

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.

This is a repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You  and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'


  1. I love this concept! For years I have felt guilty for not always having enough time for God. I definitely need this book. thank you!

    1. The Fulfillment of All Desire is on of my very favorite books. I'm planning to re-read it (dig back into it!) beginning immediately. Thanks so much, Candy.