Prayer is a battle. The Catechism makes this clear:
…The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. ~CCC 2726
Turning away from prayer means turning away from union with God. Maybe you don’t understand prayer or know where to start, The Catechism has a remarkable section on prayer right here (I’d highly recommend reading it…even if you aren’t Catholic). For others who know prayer is important, but continue to fail at “fitting it in”, here are some recommendations to start winning the prayer battle.
I was having coffee with a friend the other day, and I could tell something was off. After talking for a while, and digging in we uncovered a valuable insight. If you are only finding time for prayer, you are already losing the battle. That means you are looking in the scrap bin for leftover pieces of time because the most valuable time blocks were already used up. Making time means saying no to one more [insert guilty pleasure here] so that we can say yes to God.
The wonder of prayer is revealed beside the well where we come seeking water: there, Christ comes to meet every human being. It is he who first seeks us and asks us for a drink. Jesus thirsts; his asking arises from the depths of God’s desire for us. Whether we realize it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him. ~CCC 2560
Look around your home or your office. You have a space to eat, to sleep, to socialize, to answer emails, and even to watch TV! We tend to create spaces for the most important activities in our lives so it makes sense to create a sacred space for prayer, too, right? If the only space we allow in our physical world is church, how much space have we really made for God in our hearts?
Measure Progress in Love
One of the other traps in the battle is that prayer is a marathon, not a sprint. If our prayer is not ordered toward the fulfillment of Christ’s ministry (Love of God and neighbor), the flame that ignited our desire to begin will soon be snuffed out. I recently came across some excellent advice from a wise father of 9. At the end of your day, ask yourself this question: “Was it clear to the kids, my friends, colleagues, and strangers that I love my spouse?” This is the end to which our prayers must be ordered. If we do that, the answer will always be, “I can do better”. Love is the fuel that keeps the prayer candles in church burning brightly, and must be at the heart of our own prayers.
Look to the Cross for Inspiration
Finally, if we are to continue the good fight, and persevere through trials and spiritual dryness we must look to Christ for his grace and I have found no better way than through the Eucharist at mass and in adoration and through the cross. There is no greater reminder of love than Christ crucified on the cross. It is not just a reminder of how to love though, it is a reminder that WE are loved by him. He carried the weight of my sins, my trials, my persecutions…all of it for my sake. That is why he can say to us, “my yoke is easy, and my burden light”.
It is not the finest wood that feeds the fire of Divine love, but the wood of the Cross. ~ St. Ignatius of Loyola
Before the kids go back to school, think about how you are going to make time for prayer, and more importantly, make space for him in your home and in your heart.
About the Author:
Jonathan Conrad is married to his high school sweetheart and the proud father of 3 adventurous boys. Jonathan is the founder of Catholic Woodworker where he makes heirloom quality rosaries, prayer kits, and crucifixes.