A Guide to Prayer for the Caregiver

This week we recognize the importance of prayer in the various seasons of life.

By: Mary Lenaburg, Guest Contributor

You’re scared. All of the medical and practical details required to care for your child, spouse or parent suffering from a disability, mental disorder or disease are overwhelming. And, you’re committed to making their daily life the best it can be, no matter what their circumstances.

caregiver
There are tears of anger, fear, frustration, and disbelief that this is your life.

I had the privilege of being the primary caregiver for my disabled daughter, Courtney, for 22 years before God called her home. I say privilege because, in hindsight, being her caregiver was the hardest, yet, most beautiful thing I have ever had to do in my life.

Yet, there was one thing harder and more beautiful than being a caretaker: Praying as a caretaker.

God has chosen YOU to carry this cross, and you probably feel unprepared. You cry out to the Lord begging for wisdom, strength and understanding. You cry out to the Lord for the will to persevere.

So how do you pray during this time? What do you pray for?

First, accept that a caregiver’s prayer time must be flexible and not complicated. Less formal is more practical. And don’t feel bad about it.

Here are a few ideas that worked for me:

1

Gratitude is prayer.

If you can give thanks for something, anything, in your current situation, I promise you it will change the focus of your day. Blessed Mother Teresa said, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Train yourself to look for those small things and thank God for them. What things in a caregiver’s life are worthy of praise? A timely delivery of adult diaper supplies. A hot meal provided by a neighbor. No seizures for two hours in a row. Clean clothes at the bottom of the laundry basket.

Anything and everything. Anytime and everywhere.

Keep a list or a journal to remind you of your blessings. No matter how small.

That journal will quickly fill up and when you most need the reminder that this life is doable, open it up and give thanks again.

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2

Pray without ceasing.

As a caregiver, daily Mass is not always possible. It’s hard enough to make it to Sunday Mass (which takes precedence and planning). So what’s a caregiver to do? Here are two ideas that helped me through particularly difficult times, in physically challenging spaces such as hospital rooms, ERs, and my daughter’s bedroom floor.

First, the Blessed Mother has given us a gift in the Holy Rosary. The beauty of this gift is that it can be said outside of a sacred space and without any special materials. Ten fingers = one decade. It’s a perfect pattern.

The second is a prayer that also works with fingers (is shorter) and comes from Saint Faustina’s Divine Mercy Chaplet. “Jesus, I Trust in You,” the main theme of this chaplet, reminds us all that God has a plan for you and your loved one. It reminds us that God knows what is necessary. It reminds us that God always provides.

3

Suffering is not evil.

Suffering is not what we think it is. Although it’s hard to believe, suffering is a gift. No one suffered more than Christ on the Cross. When you share in his Passion, you become less of yourself and allow more of Him in your heart. As you decrease, He increases. It becomes a positive cycle.

We are made to be happy. Our own impatience or refusal to accept this gift of suffering—especially the trials particular to caregivers—makes things harder. So pray for patience, a quiet heart to hear what God needs you to know and where He wishes to lead you in this time of caregiving. Embrace the suffering of this moment. Oceans of mercy await you.

Alzheimer's disease patient Isidora Tomaz, 82, sits in an armchair in her house in Lisbon September 15, 2009. Several low income Portuguese families with Alzheimer's patients under their care are supported by Portugal's Alzheimer Association, a charity. Alzheimer Europe estimates the number of Alzheimer's patients in the European Union alone to surpass 7.0 million. September 21 is World Alzheimer's Day. REUTERS/Nacho Doce (PORTUGAL HEALTH SOCIETY)

4

God does not make mistakes.

He is with you. He never leaves you. He never leaves the one you are caring for. He will give ALL you that need, exactly when you need it (not when you think you need it). As a caregiver, there is no set rubric for prayer time. Each situation is so unique. The key to this is to pray all the time, no matter how formal or silly you think that prayer may be. Keep the conversation with God flowing and you will never be disappointed.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Mary Lenaburg is a Catholic blogger, wife and mother of two. She is a parishioner at Saint Mary of Sorrows Parish.


Find Mary on Twitter @marylenaburg

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