“It sounds like prayer is something you do just so you can check a box.”
Her voice was gentle, but direct. A wise friend had asked me about my prayer life, and I had responded honestly: I do the daily readings, reflect on the Blessed is She devotional in my inbox, say the Litany of Trust, pray over my kids…check, check, check. There may not be literal checkmarks involved, but I could not deny it. Right now, my prayer life looks more like a list than a conversation or a relationship.
For that reason, part of me feels terribly unqualified to write about making time to pray. It is something I struggle with daily. I feel tempted to start naming my reasons, the countless demands on my time and energy; but deep down, I know I have nothing and no one to blame but myself. Without prayer at the center, even the holiest work can become a crutch we use to politely excuse ourselves from time with the Lord. What’s more, our schedules are constantly changing, our priorities ever-shifting. What works in one season may fail miserably in another.
Even if we don’t know when to pray, we do need to pray. Not just to check “pray” off of our mental or physical to-do list, but, to grow closer to the One who deserves to be the center of everything in our lives. Thankfully, He is patient. He extends infinite grace and mercy to us. He is always there waiting when we come to Him.Without prayer at the center, even the holiest work can become a crutch we use to politely excuse ourselves from time with the Lord. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
How to Make Time for Prayer in Every Season
Below, I’ve listed a few practical options that may fit well into different seasons of life. Of course, there are far more of both seasons and ways to pray than I have listed here. Read through them all to see which suggestions may work for you given your unique situation, or which types of prayer you may not have considered before.
Making Time to Pray in College
For perhaps the first time in your life, you have the freedom to set your own schedule (so much so that my sister used to joke that she would change her major if she was ever required to take a class before 10 A.M.).
While you’ll quickly fill that blank planner with classes, study groups, clubs, and intramural sports, consider also setting aside an hour for the Lord by signing up for a weekly Holy Hour. The beauty of signing up, rather than simply saying you’ll go weekly, is that it makes that time an obligation that is much easier to stick to. Your unconventional schedule means that a time slot the church struggles to fill works perfectly for you—maybe smackdab in the middle of the workday or late at night.
I had never done a Holy Hour before my freshman year of college. In the midst of a fast-paced schedule and a noisy dorm, that hour became my guaranteed opportunity to connect with God in an intentional way. Sometimes I brought a Rosary or some spiritual reading (I loved reflecting on passages from Divine Mercy in My Soul while in adoration). But often, I simply sat and tried my best to listen. This quote from Saint John Vianney continues to inspire me any time I’m before the Blessed Sacrament:
When I first came to Ars, there was a man who never passed the church without going in. In the morning on his way to work, and in the evening on his way home, he left his spade and pick-ax in the porch, and he spent a long time in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. Oh! how I loved to see that! I asked him once what he said to Our Lord during the long visits he made Him. Do you know what he told me? ‘Eh, Monsieur le Curé I say nothing to Him, I look at Him and He looks at me!’ How beautiful, my children, how beautiful!
Making Time to Pray After College
I have never craved community as much as I did in my first few years after college. I had followed a job opportunity to a new city where I knew no one outside of work. I ached for the deep friendships I had experienced in college and was not sure where to start looking for them. I complained to my long-distance fiancé about how hard it was to find Catholic friends in this new place.
A few months later, he finally joined me in Raleigh. He attended a men’s Rosary meeting within a week of moving…and met someone who has been one of our best friends ever since.
Even if you return to your hometown or move somewhere familiar after graduation, the post-college years form a unique season that deserves fresh eyes. That makes it the perfect opportunity to seek out opportunities to pray in community. Join (or start!) a Bible study, Rosary group, small group, spiritual book club, or ministry you’re passionate about—anything that will open up the doors for fellowship and growth. Find people you can be honest with and commit to keeping one another accountable in both your group prayer and your individual prayer.
Making Time to Pray When You Have Young Kids
From pregnancy nausea and fatigue, to postpartum healing and around-the-clock nursing, to nap schedules and potty training, I imagine that this season involves the most frequent transitions. No two months, let alone years, look the same. We must continually pivot and adjust to changing routines and children’s needs, fighting for time to pray in the midst of it all.
While I am a big proponent of waking up before your kids for a few quiet moments and at least half a cup of hot coffee, I also admit that this is not always practical (hand raised for me right now!). What I have found more reliable is designating different prayers to different times of day. That might look like a Morning Offering while you brush your teeth, an Angelus before lunch, the Divine Mercy Chaplet (or a decade of it, which only takes two minutes to say) at 3 P.M., and a Rosary (or, again, just a decade or two) before bed. I love the grace I can extend to myself with this method.
Even if I miss one of my go-to prayers in the chaos of the day, I always know another is coming soon.
Making Time to Pray When You Have Older Kids
When I look at the lives of my friends who are a few years ahead of me, one theme often sticks out: many hours of that season are spent on the road.
Whether you’re commuting, juggling school drop-offs and pick-ups, and/or shuttling kids to extracurriculars, many women with school-aged kids log miles in the car every day. I love the idea of embracing that time for prayer. That might look like turning up your favorite worship music, tuning into a Rosary podcast, or doing some journaling in the carpool line. It will inevitably vary depending on the day and, ahem, the mood of your young passengers, but it is worth a try if it can turn a routine drive into something so much more. Try looping a Rosary around your rearview mirror or propping up a favorite Saint’s holy card on the center console as a reminder.
Making Time to Pray in Retirement
While your obligations are far from few, a beautiful aspect of the empty nesting/retirement season is more control over your schedule than you have probably had in a while. This may make it the ideal time to attend daily Mass more frequently, whether that means adding it in once a week for the first time or simply ramping up your attendance. To get the most out of your time at Mass, consider praying with the daily readings ahead of time and journaling about what the Lord is revealing to you.
How do you make time to pray in your current season? We would love to hear and be inspired by you!
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