By: Caitlin Bootsma
With the academic year beginning once again and Fall around the corner, schedules are inevitably filling up rapidly. For most of us, especially living in a busy place like Northern Virginia, our hours and minutes are exhausted with work, classes, chores, errands and volunteer work.
If you are like me, it can be a struggle to stay faithful to a commitment to pray every day. Sometimes I get overly ambitious with prayer commitments, only to give up entirely several days later.
Yet, with a life that can often be chaotic, I know that I need to remind myself daily about what is truly important to me – living my life with God. One of the wonderful things about our Faith is the richness of prayer traditions. If you are looking for a way to focus on prayer each day (even if it’s only for a few minutes) here are a few ideas:
(Please add to the list in the comment section!):
- Praying before leaving the house each morning: I’m always surprised what a difference it can make to stop to pray before rushing out the door. Whether it’s a commitment you make by yourself or with your family, even the action of prioritizing prayer over anything else for a minute or two sets the day on the right track.
- Daily Mass readings: Even if you do not have the opportunity to attend Daily Mass, the daily readings are available every day on the USCCB website and are a great way to re-familiarize yourself with Scripture.
- Saint of the day: Perhaps you are someone who is most inspired by real-life examples of heroic virtue. It is easy to bookmark sites that tell us briefly about men and women who overcame great struggles to live lives of virtue. See one site here.
- Keeping a prayer or reminder near your work space: It can be easy to get distracted at work or to act uncharitably in emails, on phone calls to co-workers etc. Several friends have told me that keeping a prayer card, a quote or a crucifix near their workspace reminds them in a physical way to give their work the attention it deserves and to act with charity to those around them.
- Praying for intentions at dinner: Many of us say grace before meals, but consider making this the time to pray either silently or as a family for your intentions. Offering difficulties to God as a prayer often seems to lend perspective to challenges in my life.
- Examining your conscience each night: I’ve had several priests recommend a daily examination of conscience. Consider thinking over your day each night before you go to sleep, asking God for the grace to do better tomorrow.
- Stop in and visit Our Lord in the Eucharist: While we attend Mass every Sunday, it’s a great idea to pop into an open church, even if for just 15 minutes once a week, to say “hello” to Our Lord. We often, unplanned, stop to chat briefly with our neighbors, people in the grocery store and our coworkers. In fact, sometimes those brief conversations can lead to insights, laughter or a sense of love. The same will happen with Christ in the Eucharist!
There are many more ways of forming daily prayer habits, please consider sharing some that you have found to be most helpful in your life.