Now that Lent has begun, I hope to be more consistent with intertwining my day with prayer. Some people may think that incorporating more prayer into your day means: more quiet time, so more time to sit still, a.k.a. more time to not be doing “all the things”. Yes, quiet prayer is necessary for the soul, but as St. John Chrysostom said in today’s Office of Readings:
“Our spirit should be quick to reach out toward God, not only when it is engaged in meditation; at other times also, when it is carrying out its duties…”
I am a very practical person who likes to work efficiently. When you open yourself to finding time to pray throughout the day, you would be surprised at the opportunities which arrive. Here are 7 small ways to incorporate prayer into your daily routine:
— 1 —
Before you leave your bed, cross yourself. This is a habit I actually picked up from the hubs, and it is one that I have come to really appreciate when starting my day. Rather than turning my alarm off and immediately checking the weather and whatever other things my phone could draw me into, I’ll turn my alarm off, gather myself for a few seconds, and make the sign of the cross. Typically I will prayer the Jesus prayer: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me”, and maybe I’ll throw in a few more short prayers of thanksgiving. Regardless, the sign of the cross alone is a prayer and could help set the focus of your day.
— 2 —
Waiting in line, pray a decade. Waiting in line is a truly American phenomenon, and it hasn’t made many of us much better humans. Typically we stand in line at the grocery store, coffee shop, post office, DMV, yadayada and we have our cell phone in hand, completely removed from our surroundings and possibly annoyed that the whole standing in line thing is taking way too long (much like that sentence). I personally hate having my phone out in these public circumstances, but I don’t always fill the time with something greater. Usually I have a song stuck in my head or I’ll stare at all of the magazine headlines not knowing who most of the people are in the pictures. This Lent, I am taking this as an opportunity to pray – right now, just a decade. And, to engage myself with the other beautiful souls around me, I offer the prayer for them.
— 3 —
Divine Office. The Liturgy of the Hours is a beautiful way to pray without ceasing. Those called to the celibate religious vocations are typically bound to the prayers and must engage in each of the hours of prayer. As a lay person, though I could participate in each prayer, I am able to pick and choose what fits into my daily routine. I don’t even need to have all the books (there are four for the complete set); divineoffice.org has pre-recorded most of the hours as well as the office of readings. I just need a computer or phone, and I can participate while getting ready in the morning or making/eating my lunch.
When I was working in Dallas, I loved to put on my headphones and listen to the office of readings (these tend to last around 20 minutes and always have a great homily!) while I ate my lunch. I’m picking this habit back up over Lent to help keep a soft heart throughout my day.
— 4 —
Waiting in traffic, pray another decade. Whether I’m waiting f o re v e r in traffic or just waiting for Matt to make his way out of the library, this can be a tempting time to be upset or just browse around at all the useless things on my phone. Like waiting in line at the store, when I wait for Matt to get out of the library this Lent, I will offer a decade to the students I see walking around. Maybe I’m just a really horrible person, but I think the beauty of each person is much more recognizable when you stop to pray for them.
— 5 —
Working out. I realize some people need fun music to encourage them to work out. If I’m not swimming, pump up jams are my preference. But, right now, I just swim, so listening to music can’t really happen. I can also get a little obsessive compulsive over counting my laps. Each stroke I’m thinking: okay, 75… 75… 75… now, 100… 100… 125… wait no, 100… Yea. Enlightening. I know. When my body wasn’t quite as large with child, I would try to get in a certain amount of laps in a certain amount of time; however, I’ve let those standards go and just swim for a certain amount of time. The allotted time being perfect for a slow and easy Rosary. This isn’t a regular habit I have formed, but while I swim, I could have the opportunity to offer up two things – the Rosary and whatever kind of pain I may have from working out.
— 6 —
Food, give thanks. If you are a Catholic, you are likely to at least pray for your meal when you are with another Catholic. But, going about your day, probably a little quick, it’s easy to forget that each meal is an opportunity of prayer. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Matt and I stand while we pray around our table which helps us make the moment more reverent; rather than the normal, let’ssaythisprayerreallyfastandeat. If I’m in a situation where saying a prayer isn’t really accepted, i.e. work lunch, I will cross my heart with my thumb and say something brief in my head – “Thank You for this food”.
— 7 —
Being with others. The other six points I’ve listed are times that maybe you never really thought to recite a prayer but it’s totally do-able. This last point isn’t really a time recite prayers. It’s giving yourself time to be with other people. At the end of the day, when you go home from work to your family or to a dance class and wine night with friends, engaging in those relationships is very much deepening your relationship with Christ. I’m not saying join a Bible study or prayer group, but simply to be friends with people. True relationships with people are what Christ created when He walked this earth – even with people like Thomas or Mary Magdalene.
I hope sharing these opportunities of prayer opens you up to the possibility of weaving more prayer into your day. I surely do not possess the grace to pray this consistently throughout my day every day, but I hope this Lent will give me the push to do try and receive that grace. The Lord asks us to pray without ceasing, and with a little practice now of putting my heart into that rhythm, I believe it can become its natural beat.
Because it’s Friday and I’ve listed 7 things, I’m linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum! You can check out more 7 quick takes here.