Too busy to pray?

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My Carmelite formation director has asked me to share a few ways in which prayer is part of my ordinary daily life:

“Our charism is very focused on prayer, with Mary as our model in prayer and meditation. Our Carmelite constitutions tell us that ‘Mary preserves in her heart the life and actions of her Son and meditates on them, this is contemplation’. I would be really interested to hear any thoughts you have on prayer and contemplation, because for someone with 3 kids who hasn’t a moment to herself, you would have to be even more creative than the rest of us to be able to do this! – and yet it is possible.”

So lets have a think…. Hmmmm…..

What is Prayer?

Well I guess the first thing is to make very clear what prayer is. St Therese tells us that “Prayer is the raising of ones mind and heart to God.” And it really is as simple as that. At any time, in any situation, I am able to raise my mind and heart to God – either in thanksgiving and praise, contrite and sorrowful, anger and frustration or just simply resting in His peace.

Do not prepare to pray – Just do it!

I think it’s important to say that I don’t prepare to pray. I just pray. I think a lot of people make the mistake of waiting until they are in the ‘right’ frame of mind before they pray. This is a complete waste of time. If I am angry and frustrated then THAT is the time I need to talk to God. He wants me at THAT very moment. I don’t try to hide my negative emotions from God! I Don’t try to present myself during prayer as being on my best behaviour! God sees me ALL the time. He knows my every thought – so why not go to Him just as I am? I cry, kick and scream, I tell Him it’s not fair. I beg Him for His unending mercy. I open my heart to Him, because it is only when I let Him in to my heart that He can actually work with me. Be honest – He knows you are not perfect and He doesn’t expect you to be.

I usually have one of these prayer tantrums at least once a day. I’m a drama queen – what can I say?!

Tell Him you love Him – and mean it.

During a trip to Medjugorje in 2005 I had a very powerful encounter with Jesus during Adoration. He came from the Eucharist and stood beside me and placed His hand inside my chest and onto my heart. He said to me “Clare, you need to come to me everyday and tell Me that you love Me.” He was referring to Himself in the Eucharist.

Now this may sound easy, but to be honest – it’s not. Because for me to say “I love you” I have to mean it. There has to be nothing separating me from Him. There have been some days where I have really struggled to say it. There have been days where i have been unable to say it – and this has illuminated the sin that is separating me from Him. Quite often I say it almost begrudgingly – all too aware of what He is asking me to give up, to leave behind, so that I am able to say it to Him. But there are also the days when it is easy to love Him. And i rest in His love like baby in her Fathers loving arms – and I could literally stay there all day!

Go to daily Mass.

I started going to daily Mass about 10 years ago. It changed my life. The end.

I am able to get to the 9am Mass on my way home from the morning school run. If I have the baby with me we sit with my parents, or sometimes out the back if she is noisy. I have the mass reading downloaded onto my Kindle from Universalis so even if she is screaming i can still follow what is being said. Also, having the responsorial psalm on your Kindle means that it is almost impossible to forget the response after the first time you have said it! (It’s early! My brain doesn’t wake up before 10am!)

Divine Office

As a secular Carmelite I am expected to say at least the morning and evening prayer of the Divine Office each day. But with 3 kids that is not always straight forward. There are days where I simply do not have 20 or even 10 mins to sit quietly to read it. So instead I use divineoffice.org and listen to the prayers instead of reading them. Morning prayer gets played in the car during the school run. A by-product of this is that my 8 year old has started joining in with it! He is listening to the psalms and he knows how to join in with the responses!

Evening prayer usually gets played on my laptop while i am making the dinner or feeding the baby. Prayer and house work go together perfectly in my opinion, proving that it is entirely possible to be Martha and Mary at the same time. Sometimes it is difficult to concentrate, but i always get one or two lines that touch my heart. And to be honest – that is enough for me.

During night prayer (my favourite) i sometimes just sit on the sofa and listen, and sometimes when i have some energy to do stuff in the evenings, i like sewing. And I can tell you this – there is no better past time for contemplation than sewing (other than perhaps jigsaw puzzles – but i only do that on the nights when i am feeling really rock and roll 😉 !!!!)

Contemplation in Motherhood

35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? 39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ – Matthew 25: 35-40

It is not always easy to see Christ in one’s kids! But the fact is He is there present in each of them. It is even harder to see Christ in one’s husband! But He is there too! This in itself is contemplation enough for one day (my goodness!). I’ll tell you something: You do not know what it means to keep watch with Christ until you have a little one who is teething and just wants to be held, every night, until 3am. Poor little sausage!

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I also try to say the Rosary every day as part of my promise to wear the brown scapular. Again – this is a good one for the car. I have the interactive rosary downloaded onto my phone, so i can play that wherever I am. I even have a speaker in my bathroom that sticks onto the wall so that i can listen to the office or the rosary while i am in the shower!

So there we go. A few ways i am managing to make prayer part of my normal daily life. I don’t manage it everyday – sometimes it is just impossible, but i do manage it most days. And to be honest – it’s just become second nature. It is possible.

If the desire to pray is there, then you will find a way.

8 thoughts on “Too busy to pray?

  1. I love that you pray Evening Prayer while feeding your baby and that your 8 year-old knows the responses to Morning Prayer.

    We can also include Jesus in our day-to-day moments, no matter how we’re feeling. I ask Him what I should wear, what I want to eat (I often don’t know), to remind me of my sins, remind me to pray. I talk to Him about my failings and hopes and desires and everything else. And I expect Him to answer, to participate. He does, not always in words but in some way that I recognize. Having an ongoing conversation with God, makes it natural to turn to Him when I’m cranky and to tell Him I love Him. It’s like a child hanging out with a parent, spontaneous words of love just burst out.

    My other prayer favourite is the Angelus and the Regina Coeli (Easter season only) said three times each day: on rising, at noon, and at six p.m. They’re brief prayers that make me stop in the midst of the busyness.

  2. That was a wonderful sharing of your prayer time! Thank you! You are a young busy mother and have made the commitment! I admire that. You have your whole day planned (as much as is possible with 3 kids) around your communion with Jesus! It is awesome! I am so proud of you! (Even though I am a stranger….though not really, we are sisters in Christ). We are at opposite poles of the spectrum of life. I am widowed, retired and recently lost my only son very suddenly. I was a Benedictine Oblate for many years, but at the death of my son Our Lady of Mount Carmel called me…assuring me that I would never loose her Son. She also knew I needed the charism of the Carmelite way for the rest of my life. So I have been released from my Benedictine promises and will start Aspirancy this August. Our prayer life is much the same…only I don’t have to be on the run and in the car like you do. You did a wonderful job sharing your prayer time and I know God will continue to bless you and your family! Peace and Blessings. 🌹 Genie

  3. What a wonderful blog post, Clare. Real, honest, beautiful…as you are! Thank you for sharing. God bless you and your family!

  4. What a wonderful description of how to use technology creatively in the service of your prayer life! You’ve given me a few ideas, Clare.

  5. Thanks for your thoughts about prayer Clare! Hey that rhymes! As a deacon, I try to keep a regulated prayer life each day: Liturgy of the Hours Morning Prayer, Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary Matins & Lauds, Daily Mass with group Rosary, meditation after Mass near Tabernacle, Angelus 3 times a day, Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3pm, Vespers and end of day Compline. I also do some Marian spiritual reading daily and Act of Consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Happily, I’m retired from any work except church ministry, so I have plenty of free time to pray, pray, pray! 🙂
    The important thing about prayer I found out is to persevere, keep praying even when you don’t feel like praying. It becomes second nature and we begin to love prayer more and more. Always think about the Passion of Jesus and how He prayed constantly to His Eternal Father. God bless+ you and yours!

    • Thank you for your comments to Clare…I appreciated something you said in particular…to keep praying even when you don’t feel like praying…thanks for that! It is so easy to give in to how “you feel physically” when the chimes go off and it is time to pray.

  6. Pingback: Faith In Our Families blog round-up 2015. Best year yet! | Faith in our Families

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