St. Paul urges us to “pray constantly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). But what does this mean? How can we practice it? When we reach a high state of the spiritual life, we will be in constant communion with God (see, I am assuming we are all going to make it that far). But in the meantime, we can form habits that help us pray throughout the day.
When two people fall in love, they want to spend as much time together as they can. Not only do they go out on a date very evening, they also contact each other during the day. When I was younger, we would call each other or send emails. Today, couples might text each other. Just to hear the other person’s voice or read his words of love would keep the smile on the loved-one’s face for hours.
We need the same kind of contact with God. Our “date” with God is our daily time set aside for nothing but prayer. But we should also talk to God throughout the day. At first, this might be difficult. It might even seem strange until we have formed the habit. We should remember that our little ways of connecting with God are acts of love.
Choose a prayer to repeat throughout the day
One practice that works well for me is choosing a short prayer that I can say at specific times in my day. As my regular readers know, my prayer this year has been, “Jesus, I trust in you.” At other times in my life, I have prayed, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done unto me in accordance with your word.” The kids and I try to say, “My heart is ready, Oh God, me heart is ready,” throughout our school day. (I wrote a post on our domestic monastery bell here.)
The Church attaches indulgences to many short prayers. You can gain extra graces by choosing one of these as your prayer. A few examples are:
- Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.
- Blessed be God!
- Thy will be done!
- Mother of Sorrows, pray for us.
- O Lord, increase our faith.
All these prayers are simple. They take only about a second to say. But they can remind you to think of God and “fan into flame” your love for Him. (You can see more indulgenced prayers here.)
Choose a reminder to pray
I used to say a prayer every time I looked at a clock or watch. For homeschool, we pray every time we transition to a new subject. Readers have told me they pray every time their watch chimes the hour. You might pray every time you check your email, every time the baby cries, or every time you begin a new task at work.
Currently, I pray every time something happens that I don’t like. You might be surprised how many times that is in a day! By using these moments as a trigger for prayer, I turn annoyances and disappointments into an opportunity to grow closer to Christ. Instead of being filled with anger and frustration, my day is filled with grace and hope.
It’s important to choose a trigger to pray. Otherwise, it’s easy to have good intentions, but forget to carry them out. I find that the more concrete and specific a resolution is, the more likely I am to fulfill it.
We can train ourselves to pray throughout the day, keeping in contact with God no matter what other activities we are involved in. When we do this, we make our whole day a prayer.
Share with us: What prayers do you say throughout the day? What is your trigger for praying?