Once a week, on Wednesday, Pope Benedict has a general audience in St. Peter’s Square. The topic for his next series of audiences is Christian prayer. In a general sense, prayer is the application of the mind to Divine things and is part of human experience (New Advent). Even ancient cultures participated in prayer and believed that it would lead to deeper understanding of the Divine and of life. Christian prayer, according to Pope Benedict, “is grounded in the gift of new life brought by Christ [and] offers us […] the possibility of a deeper relationship with our heavenly Father”. To read the entire general audience from May 4, 2011, go here. I am really looking forward to what Pope Benedict has to say about prayer.
A Praying Mother
Being a mother is more than a full time job, it’s a calling, a very busy calling. Sometimes prayer is viewed as a way to escape from the challenges of motherhood but only when there is time to do so. When prayer is seen as a extra curricular activity is easy to let fatigue, chores and other things take priority. But prayer should be an essential part of motherhood, not a way to escape it, it should be something that happens on a daily basis, because prayer transforms, strengthens and heals us.
Rhythm of Prayer
Prayer is the lifting of your mind and heart to God. It can happen anytime and anywhere but establishing a rhythm of praying is one way to help nourish a life of prayer. As mothers we think a great deal about creating a healthy daily and weekly rhythm for family. But what about incorporating a rhythm of prayer as part of our days and weeks too? Making prayer a regular thing in the morning and evenings, before meals and going to church are a few ways of creating prayerful rhythms.
Being purposeful about prayer is important. Lisa Hendley, author of The Handbook for Catholic Moms, offers some great suggestions in her chapter on prayer. She suggest making a prayer schedule and booking appointments with God, creating a sacred space in your home where you can go and quietly pray, starting a prayer journal or investigating your church for prayer groups. Of course spontaneously conversing with God throughout the day is also a wonderful way to pray. There are, in fact, many ways and expressions of prayer. We can pray out loud or be still. We can raise our heart to God in thanksgiving or praise or in petition or prayer for others. All of these things are part of prayer.
But the reality is, sometimes the thought of praying feels very difficult no matter what we try. Everyone, even the saints, experiences dark times like these. When I’m in a dark phase sometimes all I can do is ask God to give me the desire to pray. Be humble, trust God and persevere!
Praying with Children
As a mother (and a father too!) it is our responsibility to teach our children to pray. This can be a challenge if we aren’t even praying ourselves. But as parents the mere desire for our children to have a lasting impression of the beauty of prayer can act as a great motivator for ourselves. Saying evening prayers and prayers before meals is a great place to start.
In our home here are some of the prayers that we say with Monkey and Sweetpea:
Morning prayer: My God, I offer up to Thee My soul and heart, Thine own to be; And all I do or hear or say And all my work and play. There are so many prayers out there to choose from or make up your own. Amen. Saying this prayer first thing in the morning is a challenge . Now I wait until the children are fed and changed before attempting to pray it.
Before meals: Bless us, O Lord, and these thy gifts, which we are about to receive from thy bounty. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Before bed: Angel of God, My Guardian Dear, to whom His love commits me here, ever this day be at my side, to light and to guard, to rule and guide. Amen.
Here are a few book and website suggestions for helping moms create a rhythm of prayer in the home. Feel free to add your own suggestions in the comment section below.
Small Steps for Catholic Moms
A great book that offers a Think. Pray. Act. for every day of the year.
Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life
Johnnette Benkovic has a couple really good chapters on prayer in this book.
Prayers for the Domestic Church: A Handbook for Worship in the Home
A large variety of prayers for all sort of occasions.
Daily Prayer Online
This website has Gospel reflections, quiet space as well as other features.
Sites that have formulated prayers:
Catholic Online: Prayers
Catholic Culture: Prayers