I used to fret about this. I wondered if I was doing it "right." I wanted to be reverent, but "warm and loving and real." What I have come to realize is that the actual words I say are not as important as the fact that I say something, or think something. After all, God knows my thoughts and He knows my heart.
I enjoyed a post by Msgr. Charles Pope wherein he said (here) that one of the nicest descriptions he has heard of prayer comes from Ralph Martin, in the book The Fulfillment of All Desire. Writes Dr. Martin: "Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God." (p. 121).
Oh, I do love this.
So: I begin my day by paying attention to God. For me, personally, this is not usually my time of lengthy mental prayer. More accurately, I could say that my morning prayer is divided into two basic sections. The first is when I wake up, uttering a brief spontaneous sentence or two as I begin the day. The second part of morning prayer is a bit more formal, when I sit down with Scripture or perhaps some holy reading. Depending upon the duties of the day, however, the more "formal part" might come in the afternoon or evening.
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 of me. He expects me to live the vocation He has given me. In that vocation, however, He does ask that I "pay attention to Him." If I do so first thing in the morning, I am on track for the day ahead.
It's a start.
This is a slightly edited repost from our archives. It is linked to Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for 'It's Worth Revisiting Wednesday.'