Several years ago, I was struggling to keep a consistent rhythm of prayer in my life. At the time, I was a mom of six young children, and life was constantly changing. Just as we came out of one transition, we seemed to enter a new one.
And I was tired. Oh so tired.
But I knew that prayer was essential, and I could not give up on it.
Standing in line for Confession one day, I was reviewing an Examination of Conscience. It followed the Ten Commandments and gave examples of sins that fell under each one.
I was stopped in my reflective tracks when my eyes read these words under the First Commandment to not have strange gods before the Lord:
Have I neglected prayer?
As I continued to prepare for the Sacrament of Confession, I felt the Holy Spirit nudging me to admit my struggle to pray.
So I did.
And of all the sins I confessed that day, my struggle with prayer was the one Father focused on when he offered counsel to me.
It made sense, for prayer is at the center of our relationship with God.
Prayer is Vital and Personal
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, prayer is having “a vital and personal relationship with the living and true God” (2558). “Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him” (2565).
Prayer does not have to be fancy or elaborate, but it needs to be consistent. Consistency forms a fruitful prayer rhythm and allows us to maintain that prayer rhythm, too.
During Confession that day, Father suggested a simple formula to help me form and maintain a prayer routine in my life:
daily prayer + weekly Mass and Adoration + monthly Confession + yearly retreat
Over the years, I have followed this formula with various prayer practices, depending on my season of life. At times, my prayer rhythm is very fruitful; at other times, it is rather rotten! But it is always helpful to have something practical to return to again and again, when I need to get back on track.Prayer does not have to be fancy or elaborate, but it needs to be consistent. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Six Tips for a Fruitful Prayer Rhythm
Here are six tips to form and maintain a fruitful prayer life, following the prayer formula mentioned above:
1. Pray for your heart’s desire.
Talk to the Lord about your heart’s desire to grow closer to Him. Invite Jesus into your prayer plan. Ask Him to show you how and when to pray. Listen for ways He is inviting you to spend time with Him.
2. Seek support.
You do not have to figure all of this out on your own. In fact, it is probably better to share your plans to grow in prayer with others, such as your husband, close friend, or spiritual director. Not only can they help you find time to pray, but they can also hold you accountable in a kind and gentle way.
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3. Be consistent.
Habits form when we do the same things at the same times, over and over again. So try to praying at the same time everyday. Attend the same Mass every week. Go to Confession on the same day each month (i.e., first Friday). Attend a retreat at the same time each year (i.e., every summer).
4. Ask questions.
In order to find the times that work best for prayer, Mass, and other prayer practices, ask yourself the following questions:
- When do I have time during the day to pray? Right when I wake up in the morning? When the baby takes a nap in the afternoon? After I am done with work in the evening?
- What Sunday Mass is best for me to attend? The early one, later one, or the Saturday vigil Mass?
- Is there an hour during the week when I can go to Adoration? Could I visit the chapel on my way home from dropping off the kids at school? Or maybe when my husband gets home from work?
- When does my parish offer Confession? How can I make it a monthly habit to go on the same day each month?
- What retreats are available near me? Does my parish offer an annual women’s retreat? Is there a Blessed is She retreat coming to a town near me? Do I know of a retreat house that offers silent weekend retreats?
5. Pencil it in.
As with any important appointment, prayer needs to be scheduled. Once you decide what works for you, add prayer, Mass, Adoration, Confession, and your retreat to your calendar. It helps to see visual reminders of these important activities, especially when they aren’t automatic habits, yet.
6. Be patient.
When Father encouraged me to give this formula a try, he also advised me not to do everything at once. So, I give you the same advice! When forming your prayer rhythm, take small steps and build upon them slowly and steadily.
Faithfulness, Faithfulness, Faithfulness
In prayer, as in everything, “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).
There will be days when our prayer is far from perfect. But over time, we will see the fruits of being faithful and consistent. Our hearts will be closer to God, and we will be more in tune to His voice and will in our lives.
How have you formed a prayer rhythm in your life? How do you plan to maintain that rhythm during busy seasons?How to Maintain a Fruitful Prayer Rhythm #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Sarah Damm is a regular contributor to the BIS blog. She is a Catholic wife and mother of six children, living in Minnesota. She spends her days running errands, helping with homework, and keeping up with laundry and the family schedule. Sarah loves her faith, coffee, and good books. You can find out more about her here.