An Essential Catholic Guide to an amazing prayer life is pointless unless you have one thing. A Desire to do it. I know the arguments. God will (insert what he will do here). I agree God will do all sorts of things to help. Sending Graces and Love and whatever else is needed. However, the point remains, YOU must have a desire to keep it going.
I have set off on a mission to begin a stronger prayer life and subsequently been knocked back on multiple occasions. It always seems to fizzle out after so long. As a result, at a certain point, I have to make the decision if prayer is important to me. In other words, I have to make the free choice to continue on my original prayer plan.
It is kind of like a marriage, at some point all the fuzzy feelings and fun, turns into work. Indecently, that’s when most marriages fail. When the time comes to face adversity and the fun is gone we are faced with a decision.
Subsequently, prayer is exactly the same way, after a while we lose that internal feeling and are faced with the choice if we want to continue on.
Amazing Prayer Life Plan
In our Essential Catholic Guide to our Amazing Prayer Life, we need a plan. Our road map to where we are headed. and likewise how we are going to get there. Can you imagine trying to get from Atlanta to Houston without a map? I am sure some could make it. We could find our way, figure out that it is west and south and away we go! Most of us would need a map of some sort to help us plot our travel plan. The same is true about our prayer life. Making a plan and deciding to stick to it are our first steps.
|Morning offering||Sunday Mass; Reception of Communion||Examination of Conscience and Sacrament of Confession||Retreat|
|Mass/Communion/Spiritual Communion||Intellectual Stimulants||Prayer Devotions: First Friday/First Saturday – Choice of individual||General Examination of Conscience|
|Office of Readings||Spiritual Stimulants||Live the Liturgical Calendar of the Church|
|Morning Prayer||Fellowship Gatherings|
|Acts of Charity|
|Meditation (Approx. 15 minutes)|
|Spiritual Reading (Approx. 30 minutes)|
|Family Prayer *|
|Examination of Conscience before bed|
Above is an example of a Plan of Life, Prayer plan. It is not something you can wake up tomorrow and say I am going to tackle this entire thing! Another example; consider when you go to the gym and begin working out. Do not begin with a bust out kill yourself routine. You are setting yourself up to fail.
This is the table from someone who has been growing their spiritual life for a bit now. Don’t assume you will walk out and pray the above example. I know some of you are thinking your different and you are really in love with the Lord and will be determined to grab the list above and run for the gate. I wish you the best. But in a week, ask yourself am I just reciting prayers mindlessly, or am I making an attempt and engaging?
Implementing your plan
Implementing your Guide to an amazing prayer life should be something you work over time. Picking from the list above possibly 3-4 items to do every day faithfully. After a few weeks, look at the list and add a few more. Another possible way to implement your plan is to start with minimum times. Instead of 15 minutes of Meditation you only begin with 5 and work up from there. Fifteen minutes for someone who has never really done it before would drive you crazy! The best advice would be to prayerfully consider what God is calling you to do and go from there.
When I began my plan. I looked at what times worked with my current schedule and was easiest to implement. Morning prayer and night prayer were both something I was already doing. It was prayer of the heart, with no form to it, but it was a solid 5-10 minute time of conversation with God. With those two parts in place, I began adding to it. I started with the Angelus. Again, it was a short simple prayer, I could include in my lunch break. So I set an alarm and when it sounded at Noon, I would recite the Angelus. It was this type of thinking that led me to slowly and systematically add each piece to the plan until I had a plan that was functional and worked without stressing me out.
While setting out my plan, I felt a need for some more structure. I wanted to be more closely united to the Church during my prayer. So I purchased a set of the Liturgy of the Hours and began to pray the Morning prayer and night prayer. I found reading and praying that took about the same time as my personal devotionals anyway. From there I would end prayer with quiet time. A short 5 minutes of quite time at the end of my day, for God to speak directly to my heart before bed.
Another help was a series I found that gives meditations for every day of the year, and is based off of the Liturgical year. It’s called Conversations with God. It has three meditations for each day. You can read them all at once or at three different times through the day. I do mine at different times through the day. Usually, one in the morning, one with my lunch, and then one at evening time. It is whatever fits your plan.
I also have a time of prayer at night that I set aside for different types of prayers. I use my ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>Prayer Handbook for this, if someone has died, if someone is facing trouble, whatever the case. It gives a list of prayers for different times, and situations. Blessings and little liturgical practices. It is kept with my Liturgy of the hours and I am constantly referring to it.
Making your prayer space
As a family we have a small family altar we gather and make our focal point for Family Prayer. I have my own spot I do my private prayer time. However, my next task is to make it a better, more prayerful environment. I am looking at purchasing a few statues that I can have of my favorite Saints, and pictures that remind me of my devotions. Something that will just help to put me in the prayerful state of mind.
Living the Liturgical Life of the Church
No Essential Catholic Guide would be complete without a Liturgical Calendar being part of it. I mentioned this in a Youtube video we shot a few weeks back. You can get one of these, normally from your parish around Christmas time. Even if you begin in July, a lot of times they have some left over and would be more than happy to give you some! Call your parish office and ask. With this Calendar, you will know the feasts coming up, Saints Feasts and everything! Living each day with the Church brings a sense of peace. It also helps us to see how alive the church really is!
My favorite part of my prayer life is my time of spiritual reading. I find books on the different Saints that I have devotions with. For example, ” target=”_blank” rel=”noreferrer noopener sponsored nofollow”>Introduction to the Devout Life was one of my favorites! You dive into the mind of the Saint. My advise here is to take it slow. Don’t set to speed read, read to absorb the knowledge like a sponge. This is going to be deep reading for sure! Sometimes, it takes me a second trip around to digest what St. Augustine is saying in his books! Ok FINE it might have taken a third or fourth trip. Don’t be discouraged. Read it to understand, to comprehend, to allow it to draw you up into what they are explaining.
Find your Intellectual and spiritual stimulants
Examples would be Bible Studies, participation in Adult education at your parish, being part of your Parishes RCIA program things, things that expand your mind and your spirituality. Call it continuing education. These are found in your parish bulletin. You may also ask a friend, and see if they have a bible study as well. If you are a beginner I would strongly recommend sticking with an all Catholic study. Certainly, you can join a non Catholic study, but you are just starting to learn the faith. It can become confusing.
Learning what works and what doesn’t is the most important part of this entire plan. To understand that you are human and this is a process that you will fall down on a few times, is important. Don’t over do it. Take your time and let it come into place. Implement it slowly. Be patient with yourself, it really is the thought that counts.