"You pray before battle"

sword "You pray before battle"Last week I was praying about how I’m bad at praying. (I use the word “praying” loosely here; “whining in God’s general direction” would be a better term.) I was walking around as I cleaned up the kitchen after dinner, half-consciously thinking stuff like, “I dunno, I do try pray, but I always get distracted, or I forget, or I just don’t feel like it. Actually, let’s be real, it’s usually that I just don’t feel like it…”

I try to “pray without ceasing,” turning to God regularly as I go about my days, but lately I’d been increasingly apathetic about having any kind of set prayer time where I give God 100% of my attention. Even though I recognized that when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours it helps me on every level, even when I tried setting simpler goals like just focusing on freeform prayer for five minutes per day, it still wasn’t happening. And so I found myself whining about it in the kitchen one night last week.

And, to my surprise, I got an answer.

In the midst of my unfocused rambling, a loud message interrupted all my other thoughts and got my full attention. I guess it could have been from my subconscious, but it really seemed like one of those moments of “hearing” God since it came out of the blue and was so foreign to all my other thoughts. It said:

You pray before battle.

What? I wasn’t even sure what that meant. I responded prayerfully: “Huh?”

I heard it again. As I rinsed dishes and swept the floor, I thought about what that meant in relation to my struggles with prayer. Then I realized:

If I were going into battle tomorrow — a real battle, facing bloodshed and mortal danger — I would pray. I wouldn’t have to remind myself why it’s important. I wouldn’t whine about it. I wouldn’t drag my feet. And I dang sure wouldn’t forget.

In fact, if I were doing anything of great importance, I would naturally turn to prayer. Let’s say, for example, that Oprah invited me on her show to make the case for orthodox Christianity, or that I had a chance to meet with an influential politician to talk to him or her about an issue that’s important to me. Not only would I not forget to pray beforehand, but you’d hardly be able to get me to do anything else.

A big problem with my prayer life is that I’d stopped feeling like I do anything important on a day-to-day basis. Now, I’ve always known that my job is the most important job in the world; I’ve never doubted that my role as a mother is critical in the grand scheme of things. But on the average day? Hmm. Not so much.

Somewhere along the way my attitude had become saturated with ennui, and I came to see my days as consisting of “make breakfast,” “clean up after breakfast,” “try to keep the house from getting destroyed between breakfast and lunch,” “make lunch,” and so on. Not very exciting. I’d made the dangerous mistake of forgetting that every day is a battle, a war of good against evil, that every time I choose love instead of sin it’s a victory on a cosmic level that I can’t imagine. There are always opportunities to step out of my comfort zone in trust in God, to serve in ways I’ve never served before, to bless other people with the love of God — and that’s on days when I don’t leave the house! It’s a vicious cycle, really: the more I skip prayer and lose touch with God, the more I forget that the Christian life is always the exciting life, regardless of your external circumstances.

As the new year rolls around, I think that one of my biggest goals is simply to break out of this lackadaisical approach to daily life and renew my understanding that every day really is an opportunity to fight a glorious battle. Anyone have any advice?

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57 Responses to “"You pray before battle"”
  1. Karyn says:

    There's a Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hahn, whose main focus is mindfulness in daily life. He had a lot of great, easily accessible books that people of any religious or non-religious persuasion could benefit from. Anyway, one of his suggestions is to pick a visual or auditory signal and everytime you see or hear that signal, pause and breath in and be mindful (or prayerful). So maybe everytime you hear that annoying beep from the child's new toy, it can actually call you to mindfulness! Another thing that has helped me is that I have some routine moments for sending out a quick prayer – before getting out of bed, while getting in the shower, while folding laundry, before meals, and before starting the car. But I'm not good at setting chunks of time aside – by the time the kids are in bed, I barely can drag through the rosary. Thanks for the reminder of how prayer can actually help us in our sometimes mundane-seeming chores.

  2. Jaime says:

    I've struggled with this too at various points, and some days for me it just comes down to obedience, even if the 'feeling like I want to pray' isn't there. And God has blessed that, because the more I am obedient and disciplined in praying — despite the feeling — the more he draws me in and communicates. And that's all I have to share.;)

  3. Lenetta @ Nettacow says:

    I haven't looked at it from this angle, and it's really interesting! I've found myself praying a bit mindlessly while working through something in my mind and instead of considering that to be bad prayer, I think of it as sanctifying my thoughts. But I really, really need to work on my devotional/silent/"real" prayers, too. I know the holy spirit turns all our prayers into grunts and groans, so even our most sincere prayer isn't quite perfect anyway.

  4. The Praying Mom says:

    As odd as it might sound, post notes to remind yourself. I have notes in the bathroom, near my bed, in the laundry room, by my desk, in the kitchen, etc etc (I think you get it) and they all remind me to pray. The one in the bathroom says something like "Don't forget your morning offering" while the one by my bed says "Did you thank God for your day?" and so on. I have reminders for prayers like that all over my house. Some days I don't need them at all, but I never take them down because there are days that I really do need those reminders and without them I doubt I would pray on those days. Hope that helps :)

  5. Trisha Niermeyer Potter says:

    Going along with your theme of praying before you go into battle, we are told we better go and get our armor on. It's time to suit up, because we are battling darkness and evil everyday. Ephesians 6:10-20 reminds us of the kind of armor we need to fight the daily battles of feeling like we don't matter, aren't doing something significant enough we need to pray in order to get ready for it… As the song says, "you better go and get your armor."

  6. bearing says:

    This is a really good insight.

  7. Jenny says:

    Excellent post! It is true, we make sure prayer is a part of our readiness for the "world", but my world is enclosed within these walls I call home, tending to the needs of a bunch of kids. And I suffer from lack of preparedness.

  8. Emily says:

    I completely agree with your post. Thank you for agreeing with own sentiments so well! As far as my own battles, I know I always have the tendency in conversations to "wish I could have said what I wanted to say" in a better way. SO I've taken to praying before big conversations, conversations that will change the course of someone's life, and I ask God and the Holy Spirit to give me the right words to say. And it hasn't failed me yet! So when you write about battles, that is exactly what came to mind.

    I think your writing about these little instances of life, help me realize the little ways that I AM doing well in prayer. That helps me take the positive approach and expand on it, instead of berating myself for not doing enough. So, thank you!!!

  9. mtmom says:

    This is so relevant to my life! Thanx for sharing. I will be checking back to see the suggestions you get!

  10. Kelly says:

    No advise (except maybe wake up earlier or pray with or without hubby after kids go to sleep), but thank you so much for the inspiration! Like you, I'm a "stay at home" mom and we homeschool. It's so easy to lose sight of the bigger picture and remember just how important our calling is. I've been struggling with a dry prayer life lately too. Thanks for the reminder of how important our work is!

  11. Young Mom says:

    Wow, I love this. I forget that the everyday that I am doing is important and requires prayer just as much as the next thing. You have inspired me to think about it some more.

  12. April says:

    I think acedia is an affliction tailor-made for mothers. This calling to seemingly mundane tasks is sometimes so numbing to active, imaginative, and…let's face it… often undisciplined (in my case, at least) minds.

    I appreciate your insight that seeing our tasks as important is key to finding them prayer-worthy. I am reminded of Holly Pierlot's book where she says that she started consciously trying to do everything, even the most boring things EVAH, with the words, "I do this for love of you, Jesus" accompanying them. When I do it, I find it becomes a prayer. I am still fighting acedia and sloth, but it is getting better, for/ because of the love of Jesus.

    And with that… I have some laundry to fold… out of love…

  13. Dani says:

    I too struggle with daily prayer. I often think that I pray badly or selfishly or not in the right way. That is, if I can even take the time to fit it into my unworthy miniscule day.

    I turned to reading (the Bible or whatever I could get my hand on). I found a few quotes that have helped frame my mind around prayer that maybe would help you.

    1) Matthew (6:7) "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases".

    2) True humility scarcely ever utters words of humilty – St. Francis de Sales.

    3) The language that God hears best is the silent language of love- St. John of the Cross

    4) If you say man is too little for God to speak to him, you must be very big to be able to judge- Pascal

    5) A little lifting of the heart, a little rememberance of God, one act of inward worship are prayers…acceptable to God- Brother Lawrence

    6) Laughter is the beginning of prayer – Reinhold Nieburh

    7) Nothing needs so much effort as prayer to God- Saying of the Desert Fathers.

    8) Anytime you call on God, if in vanity, anger, pain, happiness, boredom..he listens and answers – My RCIA instructor

    9)Ask and you shall recieve but nowhere is it mentioned what you will recieve. It may not be what you thought you would get, but it will certainly be what you need. – My RCIA instructor.

  14. Marjorie says:

    Amen!I was reading and meditating on a piece this morning re the 'primacy of grace' that quoted the doctors of the Church and JPII on the importance of prayer as the foundation for all our efforts. I agreed with what they said but couldn't relate. That seems logical when you are creating or reforming a ministry or undertaking some important difficult task, but what does God care about the crumbs of my mundane existence that frankly bore me to tears? Your post is a good reminder that He cares a lot, more than I do and that is why I should be relying on Him in matters big and small and not worrying about alienating Him by sharing the details of my everyday life. Great post!

  15. Anne says:

    Jennifer, how very interesting to come home from a visit with my spiritual director where I complained to him about the same thing you mention here, my lack of desire to pray, and then read this post!

    His advice was really the same you'd hear anywhere. Keep praying, even when you don't feel like it, because the less you pray, the less you want to pray. The less you exercise, the less you want to exercise. But if you continue with the discipline, those sweet feelings that rise up in prayer will come back.

    Then, he told me a beautiful story about Jesus and the stations of the cross. I will write a blog post about it in a few days, it was so good that I want to share it with everybody. I'll give you a heads up when it's posted if you are interested.

    In the meantime, know that you are not alone. My prayer has been ultra dry and my desire to pray has been null all during Advent. I like the quote from "Finding Nemo" just keep swimming, just keep swimming…just keep praying, just keep praying…and I would add, keep listening to the voice of God like you do, you are lucky to recognize it when it comes to you! God bless you!

  16. M says:

    I don't have any advice; I'm just here to second your problem. Being a SAHM is filled with so much routine, it's hard not to get bogged down in the dreariness of wash, rinse, repeat. I've tried to make lists of things that I need to pray over but lately it that most of my prayers are conversations on the fly or when I have a moment of quiet. And they pretty much revolve around the fact that I seem to be a faithless servant who can't remember to pray.

    I like your battle analogy. As I was pondering the other day, I had the image that if God were like my earthly father when I was a child, I would want a morning hug, I would want to be tucked in at night and I would want to talk with him as soon as he got home from work. I'm trying to translate some of those feelings over but prayer is often easier in the abstract than in reality.

  17. Michelle says:

    Thank you for this. I need this reminder that my life is indeed extraordinary even in the mundane. We are constantly on a routine, but I have many opportunities to learn from and teach my children, learn from and teach my husband the ways of the Lord.

    I, too, need to make more time for focused prayer. I hope to make that happen, too, in the new year.

  18. Jennifer says:

    What a wonderful post! Just what I needed today. I forget, too, that every day is a battle. My thoughts are a little different than yours, but basically along the same lines: "Wake up. Change diaper. Dress toddler. Make breakfast. Hand off kids to husband. Drive to work. Work hard but have time for latte. Don't forget latte." How many times do I remember to pray before the battle? Thank you, thank you, for the reminder.

  19. MahoneyMusings says:

    What a brilliant piece of wisdom. I love this thought. We mothers are in constant battle against the secular world…a society that doesn't appreciate our work or see the importance of keeping our families together and being our spouse's helpmate.

    I, too, struggle with prayer. One thing that helps me is the side of my fridge – it is the side I see all the time when in the kitchen. It is covered in snippets of paper, everything from words God has spoken to me, to notes that have arrived at just the right moment in my life to prayer cards to little pieces of artwork that my children have made. They all surround the family calendar.

    I don't debate the importance of dedicated prayer time. But as a mom, I also know that finding short snippets of time throughout our busy days is incredibly powerful as well. 30 seconds in prayer can be like a cup of coffee for me.

    I can be making sandwiches for what feels like the 1,000th time in a week, and look over at my fridge and allow God to direct my eyes to just the right word or picture or line of scripture and just meditate on that while making those sandwiches. It's not spending an hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament but….

    I'm going to add, "You pray before battle" to my fridge. Thanks for that.

  20. Anonymous says:

    Jen,

    Wow – I love it when this happens. I've had a similar experience just twice in my life, but it's awesome when you "hear" something internally like this that is so simple yet so filled with wisdom that you know you never would have thought of it yourself. I have the same problem with prayer. You're right – we have to remember that we are part of the Church Militant, and we are in battle daily.

    I think it would probably greatly help me to set aside a prayer corner in my home. I've seen your posts about it, but never actually went through with putting one together. I'll pray for you – please pray for me!

    Jen G

  21. Bonnie says:

    one thing I've done is add a Christian song to the end of every playlist I have on my ipod. That way I can pray the song at the end of my work out, cleaning, baking, whatever. Victory Chant and Jars of Clay's Dead Man (Carry Me) are used very frequently.

    It's just one thing, but it's still one thing.

    I need a lot more. ;)

  22. Anonymous says:

    Quick Question Jen…

    Do you think that we feel the pressure to "pray a certain" way or more "piously" to fit into Catholic church? Like if your kids misbehave you feel like you are judged as a parent. Or if we stand vs kneeling, I feel some are judging me as not reverant enough. Or if I don't instant get something that a crade catholic gets. Or if it takes you a while to come on board for a certain issue (ie homosexuality or abortion)…especially if its an issue you held firmly before becoming a Catholic and you haven't reconciled the churches view with yours.

    Sometimes I feel like I'm in highschool trying to fit in and not be judged by others within my own faith…almost like a weird form of peer pressure. I mean there are no consequnces and it's not as petty as school, but it's still a pressure none the less.

  23. Elizabeth@Frabjous Days says:

    Great insight… I'm the last person to give anyone advice about prayer, but I pray the St Michael prayer every night — which does put me in mind of the daily battle. My confessor reminded me to make little aspirations regularly — that seems to help, when I remember (duh!)

  24. blissful_e says:

    Amazing post – thanks for sharing God's thought for you with the rest of us.

    I use the term "pray without ceasing" loosely as I go about the often mundane tasks of parenting three children under age four. Basically, I think of all those small tasks (done with the right attitude) as prayers. I also sing aloud a lot – mostly old hymns and praise songs – which I count as prayers too, and which certainly help my attitude!

    But often I forget to offer up these small services or forget to sing and then I wonder why I'm so grumpy! Hmph!

  25. Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias says:

    I struggle with this too. I've found that really working with other like-minded moms to do a better job helps me to not get apathetic. I also frequent a blog where the author occasionally writes a "more than making it through the day" post. Those always get me thinking about what I'm doing (and not doing) as a mother. There is another blog I visit that has a wonderful post you can view here: http://www.preschoolersandpeace.com/?p=553 that helped me to realize that my day with a toddler can involve so much growth in faith for me.
    I set very high goals for myself both as a wife, a mother, a sister, etc. but what I don't do is expect myself to achieve those high goals alone. I couldn't if I tried! So what happens is I strive towards my lofty goals of raising a child who knows and loves God, a child who displays kindness and respect to other people, and is also being mentally challenged every day. Then I fail and pray–hard! I also set lofty goals of me being that perfect wife, adoring my husband, cooking him nutritious meals, being intimate regularly, never nagging or complaining. Then I fail and pray–even harder. I don't beat myself up over my failures, I use them as my stepping stones to the Lord. You would of course pray before a battle. Your job is to enter the fray of your own free will, put yourself in situations that challenge you spiritually, physically, emotionally, and mentally, then pray like hell for God to make you victorious in His name :)

  26. Arkanabar T'verrick Ilarsadin says:

    Jen, this is textbook sloth — when prayer, spiritual exercise, and seeking closeness with God make you feel frustrated, bored, annoyed, or tired. Not that I have any suggestions, but knowing your problem will doubtless help you search for solutions others have found for themselves.

  27. Meredith says:

    This concept has helped me a lot the past few months. The daily prayer of the Legion of Mary includes this antiphon before the Magnificat:

    "Who is she that comes forth as the morning rising, fair as the moon, bright as the sun, terrible as an army set in battle array?"

    The Legion of Mary is an army of faithful who serve beneath this standard.

  28. kimberly says:

    THANK you for making me not feel alone in this regular struggle. I usually "talk" to God with little "thank yous" and lots of "whining" as you mentioned. I appreciate you reminding me that motherhood is a daily battle.

  29. Lana says:

    I've been praying the Morning Offering for over a year and trying to figure it out what it means. Through it, I have realized all sorts of things I never expected.
    It makes real the presence of Jesus and Mary in the mundane, the communion with saints in heaven, and also others who are still here in the thick of their own "battles"… When there are specific needs I know of, friends how are suffering, personal failures or weaknesses that have become too obvious to ignore any longer, etc., that prayer helps me to realize that it is about so much more than me.
    I intend to keep praying that prayer, and meditating on it because I keep having to re-learn the lessons, too, because I am so slow!
    I highly recommend it.

  30. Lana says:

    I also meant to say: be thankful. If we spend our days in thanksgiving, our conversation with Jesus becomes easy and natural.

  31. Anonymous says:

    It gets easier with age and practice
    and
    “Prayer is helplessness casting itself on Power, infirmity leaning on Strength, misery reaching to Mercy, and a prisoner clamoring for Relief.” –Fulton J Sheen

  32. Rickson Menezes says:

    Keep it going, Jenifer. We need your wonderful blogposts

  33. Nadja Magdalena says:

    I've been battling ennui since my baptism in 1996! I think I've have maybe three brief periods of consolation since then.

    I just started reading Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life, and her tip is to schedule your day around periods of prayer and spiritual study/reading. Put God first on the schedule since He is to have our First fruits. Up until now I have always followed the advice of my priests who said, "Well, you're a busy mom–make your morning offering and try to pray in little ways throughout the day", but this isn't working for me. So in the new year I am going to schedule prayer into the day.

    I already wake up early enough to do a little prayer and reading in the early morning, and for about 7 years now we have been praying a family rosary before bed (sometimes its more like a circus when you have a couple of toddlers and a nursing baby!), but I'm trying to find ways to set aside a few minutes between rising and bedtime to pray. I have taken a
    Sharpie marker to the shelf-edges of my kitchen cabinets and written short aspirations on each of them–so I can pray every time I open a cabinet! I'm also trying to remember other short, prayerful acts, like kissing my scapular when I dress, using holy water (remembering to fill the fonts is a challenge enough!), and making the sign of the cross and saying, "For the greater glory of God and the good of all souls" when I first get out of bed in the morning.

    But even with all of this, I think I need to try what a priest friend just suggested. We were on the phone and I spoke of my aridity. He asked, "Do you ever pray for the gift of prayer?" No, I haven't. But I think I need to start.

    My word verification is "chugme". From the hillbilly version of Alice in Wonderland, no doubt…

  34. Anonymous says:

    Wonderful, wonderful post. Thank you. I do think it was the voice of God.

  35. elizabethe says:

    Oh Jen, this post struck home with me.

    But the thought that immediately came to my mind is how mothers are in battle for their children's souls as well as their own.

    And also that battle is something you *engage* in, not disengage from. Battle is chaotic, like a home with children can be, it doesn't lend itself to contemplation. It also requires real physical energy and often dealing with pain and suffering and distraction.

    You also don't pray during battle or if you do it's very very focused — like "God help!" You don't worry about deepening your insights or trying to understand what it's all about or whatever. You just pray, sometimes incoherently for God's help.

    I find my prayers have come down to "God, help me with my children" all the time. Knowing all the love and hope and fears I have for them as a mother are wrapped up in that prayer and that I don't have time to articulate it and that God understands and knows and is there to help in the battle for them.

  36. coffeemom says:

    Excellent. And yup, I'm right there w/ you. Especially lately, caught up in the hubub of this season. Especially the whining. But OH I agree, pray before battle and every day we face one, to some degree.

    I have to go pray the morning hours now. THank you.

  37. ~Robin says:

    As others have commented, I also thank you for this post. It was the gentle nudge I needed. Bless you.

  38. Marie says:

    Excellent post! As a SAHM of 6 who homeschools, every morning I hit the floor at 6 a.m. to get hubby off to work, then start the day. I could never find time to pray. Two things I do that seem to work:

    1. When cleaning up the kitchen with the family, we play a Rosary CD. The CD leads the prayers and we all answer them. This way I can direct the children's chores and not have to concentrate on how many Hail Mary's are left in the decade. We simply follow along as best we can. A 15 to 20 minute Rosary is the perfect time to clean-up the kitchen and fold the laundry.

    We also have a Chaplet of Divine Mercy CD that we use for an afternoon house pick-up before we run to lessons/sports. We usually pray it around 2 p.m. (not the usual 3 p.m. time)

    Praying with CD's in the car is also great. The little ones seem calmer when mom and the big kids are praying the Rosary. Plus, it's hard to start a fight in the back seat or poke your sister when everyone is praying. I ordered a free Rosary/Chap. of Div.Mer. CD from Catholicity.com.

    2. I joined the Carmelites, a Marian-based prayer group founded by the prophet Elijah nine centuries before Christ.

    Elijah lived on Mt. Carmel in the Holy Land and was victorious over the 450 prophets of Baal, as told in the the 3rd book of Kings. One day Elijah, in one of his prophetic visions, had seen a vision of Mary, the mother of the future Messiah. Elijah knew that he and his followers who lived on Mt. Carmel must pray to God to send this woman who would give birth to the long awaited Messiah. This is how Mary got her oldest-known title: Our Lady of Mt. Carmel.

    Many parishes have a Carmelite group. We meet the first Saturday of each month for Lit. f/t Hours, Mass, Rosary, coffee fellowship, and reading a chapter of an inspirational book. It is a 3-hour prayer retreat away from the world. I usually have to drag myself to the meetings, cos we are so busy on Saturdays, but once I'm there, I love it. Most of the Carmelites are in the 60 to 80 yr. range, but I get lots of great advice on raising a family and running a household from my older and wiser friends.

    Try to get involved in a prayer group that centers around the Mass, Rosary, Divine Mer. Chaplet, etc., and try to gravitate toward the older people who seem to be prayer warriors. It will rub off on you! (Plus, they can pray for you.)

  39. By The Time I count to 3 says:

    Thank you Lord for giving such a clear message to Jennifer and moving me to read her post today.
    Help me to take this blessed battle of Motherhood and family life seriously and with great care. Let me never forget my need for the armor you provide for me. Not to mention your consolation and refreshment in the midst of the hardest times.Please firm my resolve- despite distractions and lack of desire- to come before you daily…even hourly to seek You.Amen

  40. lorimcktia.blogspot.com "Cottage By The Sea" says:

    From what I understand if you read 8 paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church per day, you can finish the entire thing in a year. That would not only be educational, inspiring, and a discipline, it would be a form of prayer. Happy New Year!

  41. Johanna Lamb =) says:

    What a great reminder. I was at a memorial service for a one of my husband's co-workers. The interesting thing is many of the people from his 55 member unit were there. I noticed many of the senior enlisted are families who attend church regularly. I started thinking about the younger generation at his work. Of the two dozen members mid 30s or younger, 3 of us attend church regularly. and we all are Catholic.
    It might not seem like our daily lives are that exciting, but there is a battle going on and those numbers show it.
    Let us pray always!

  42. Veronica Mitchell says:

    The Christian life is a life of spiritual warfare. Our struggle for goodness instead of evil IS battle.

    Your post reminds me of the pastor in Alan Paton's Cry, the Beloved Country, who climbed a mountain and spent the night in prayer when he was faced with a terrible temptation.

    I am like you – a lackadaisical pray-er. But every day is faced with terrible temptation.

  43. Sarah - Kala says:

    I love this post and the insight shared. Many times I have been "patted on the back" for being such a prayer warrior. Well, I have only God to thank for this, because it is a gift. It is embarrassing to say how much I pray, when I feel like I am not praying enough! However, my advise, when asked, is "to pray even when you do not feel like it" . . . God knows what He is doing in asking us to pray.

    In Confession, recently, the priest told me that one should continue to seek Christ in the Eucharist even if in need of Confession – in the sense that you intend to go to Confession (of course) as soon as possible. By receiving the Eucharist, it strengthens us (as many already know). I had been trying to get to Confession for weeks, over a sin I thought may have been more than venial . . . and I kept myself from Receiving until I had Confession. Five weeks is a long time to not have Jesus so close to me! I was being ridiculous about the rules, as was pointed out. And, you know, I won't make that mistake again, because I falsely believed any prayers I was praying were going to be fruitless. Shame on me . . . because I know God is a forgiving, loving, and merciful God . . . not that that excuses me from my sin . . . But this thought process made praying very difficult to say the least. Confession is a blessing, as are the many good and loyal priests out there.

    So, never stop praying! Be obedient to God's call. Happy New Year!

  44. Claire says:

    I think prayer (as opposed to "prayers") is received. Sometimes we have to "work" at it, in the sense that we ask for the gift, but I think it is something given.

  45. Julie Y says:

    Many years ago I had a routine of setting the kitchen timer for an hour. When the timer beeped, I would drink a tall glass of water and, while drinking, pray to Jesus (the source of Living Water). Then I would set the timer for another hour and, when it beeped would take in another 8 oz. of water, praying while I did so. It was a great way to remember to pray throughout the day — as well as get in my daily requirement of water! I should begin that again with the New Year ….

  46. Jen says:

    Just wanted to say that this really spoke to me in a powerful way. I have been thinking about it almost constantly since reading it. Thank you for sharing where you're at and I admire your determination to search for a better way. I'm going to recommit to doing that myself. It reminded me of this article I found on root sins which was quite helpful in illuminating my struggles (though, admittedly, I had forgotten about it almost entirely until reading your post) – perhaps you may find it interesting as well.

    http://www.totustuus.com/overcome.htm

  47. sonatamom says:

    I read through all the comments thus far, hope I didn't miss any, but Jen, you are such a good writer-I write my prayers. When I was younger(like your age), I hated to get up 30 minutes earlier than I had to because sleep seemed so scarce, but I can tell you that those sweet times of communion have woven a thread throughout my life, and by also meditating on a portion of scripture, I have connected with a wonderful Friend, whose prsence and comfort I would not want to live without.

  48. Elizabeth Mahlou says:

    I have a slightly different problem, but the result is essentially the same. The desire is there, but the time is hard to find. Yeah, the unceasing part as I go through the day is often manageable, sort of a continuing dialogue. The time to stop and pray in a serious way, though, is difficult or, as you say, before battle. I have battles daily at work, and sometimes the pressure is so great to reach the objective that I charge up the hill, forgetting to put on my spiritual armor. And, of course, in those cases, the result is often not what I would like it to be. For that reason, I have labeled my computer, which is the weapon I most often wield in battle, with a post that says "PG." Lots of people who see that think that I have fallen in love with the little town of Pacific Grove. Not so although it is a nice little town by the sea. Rather, PG is a reminder to me to Pray to God before I touch my keys. It often works.

    Another thing that has worked although not always is to ask God to remind me when I need to pray with a touch on my shoulder. I often get that reminder, but sometimes it would be nice, when I am in the throes of a heated debate over some task or assignment, if that touch were less gentle!

    As for the voice you heard, I have heard it, too. I am so happy you mentioned it because apparently not everyone does. I suspect that it is not your subconscious. I, too, try to attribute it to that as a first step. Depending on what I am "told," I take it up with a priest to check out the authenticity. Sometimes, because of what I am told to do — something about which I have no knowledge — I get evidence of the authenticity in the doing of the task. I plan to add a post to my Modern Mysticism site about that as soon as I get the time and courage.

    And finally, I would say that Anne is right. Just as putting off exercise leads to decreasing desire, so does putting off prayer. Fortunately, I have people at work who can keep me on track for both exercise and prayer. I think it must be harder for you because the motivation is more internal.

    Good luck, and Happy New Year!

  49. Shylock says:

    Fasting. Or just offering daily sacrifices.

    Have you tried fasting on bread and water maybe once a week? I did that for awhile after I came back from Medjugorje/ In the beginning, it was extremely hard. At first I thought that I would be more likely to stick to it if I considered it as a health and dietary benefit as well as a spiritual practice but it was when I began to practice it exclusively as a spiritual exercise that I began to REALLY benefit.

    I have found that there's a growth and appreciation for God that comes when I have set a goal of sacrifice and then stick to it in time of challenge (before battle?). I remember that you have a problem with certain foods that spin your head out of control (mine is sugar) so when I continue to turn away from it for God's sake, no matter what the initial negative feelings that come from its absence, it releases me from food's chains on the desires of the flesh and forces me to be spiritual about my diet. And during these times of challenge and negative feelings is when I really start to pray for the will to keep on.

    Oh and thanks for the great post. I totally identify with your prayer struggles!

  50. MargaretJDMom says:

    Hi…I am a fairly new reader to your blog. First time commenter. Have you looked into the writings of St. Josemaria at all? He writes a lot about transforming regular, let's face it, boring work. There's a famous quote along the lines of…"you aren't just peeling the potatoes, you're sanctifying yoursel peeing the potatoes." Everything can be given up to him, first with the morning offering an then each task. You can even make a list "dishes- for suzie; sweeping- for husband" etc. and then look at it often. It also helps to think about this life of wife/mom as your path to heaven, not just some pit stop on the road to greatness. I have to stop myself from the "I can't wait till they are grown up and then I can do important stuff like x" even though I know forming souls and helping them get to heaven is the a-1 task! Another aspect of St. Josemaria's writings (and Opus Dei, which he founded) is the fact that you can take a fairly professional approach to homemaking. Love you blog!

  51. Patty says:

    I really love your blog, you have a lot of good things to say.

    In my prayer life, what I have discovered in fighting against the tendency to "not pray"; if I can remember to say a short morning offering, giving my entire day to he Lord, all of my daily chores can become a way in which I can "pray without ceasing".

  52. tierney says:

    I am so discouraged that after two years of praying,saying the rosary, attending mass and sometimes daily mass, reading so much…that I still feel I am not breaking the surface and really GETTING it. I am strong for a few days and then back to yearning and wanting to just get a little wink from God that I am on the right track. Do others feel that same ache? I want peace from my faith, not such an almost constant yearning. I just feel ready to give up.

  53. Elizabeth Mahlou says:

    Teirney's comment touched me. I wonder, Tierney, if you have ever thought about joining a prayer group. Our prayer group has helped may people in prayer. Actually, I belong to two, a local one that I co-direct (not that I know anything more than anyone else in the group) and one in a bigger city to the north that is focused on contemplative prayer and taught by a priest. You might consider that route; it has brought all of our local prayer group members much comfort with prayer and much peace in their lives — and yes, we have seen many of our prayers answered.

  54. Anonymous says:

    ahhh! this stuff is gold! thanks everyne. one thing i do is save inspiring stuff like this post and yalls advice on a word doc to refer to when i feel dry. its a lengthy doc now, almost 20 pages. i should print it and put in a bider

  55. lavender oil says:

    I gave you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing can hurt you.
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