In case you haven’t noticed, I am a mom. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll also know I share a lot of articles pertaining to parenting strong-willed children… simply because both of my children are awesomely strong-willed. I have been honest about my struggles with trying to teach my son how to pray, and struggle to identify whether or not forcing him to pray is doing any of us any favors. And, as most parents with small children can attest – alone, quiet time is also exceedingly hard to come by. This forces me to chase holiness a little creatively, finding ways to pray and deepen my spiritual life in ways I would never have imagined.
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Prayer comes in many shapes and sizes, and I explored some of the thoughts on prayer during the Nineveh 90 challenge.
The past four months, I’ve been focusing on learning the steps to a prayer technique advocated by St. Ignatius of Loyola. The technique, simply called “The Examen,” has five steps: Gratitude, Petition, Review, Forgiveness, and Renewal. Honestly, I am behind on writing a review of this book, but I have found The Examen Prayer: Ignatian Wisdom for Our Lives Today by Timothy M. Gallagher, OMV to be very useful.
In attempting to practice The Examen on a regular basis, I have found myself struggling with expressing “gratitude.” As I shared with our chaplain, I dislike thanking God for the “same things, over and over again.” He wisely counseled, “You don’t have to get prosaic over your gratitude. You can thank Him for your family, but you can even thank Him for the basics He has provided… the shoes on your feet, the bed you are kneeling next to, the car you are driving. It doesn’t have to be deep – it just has to be said.”
Perhaps my favorite guide to small prayers is A Mother’s Book of Prayers, released by Regina Press. This ninety-six cent book contains dozens of pages and prayers for every situation in a mother’s life. It is displayed next to our front door, on our family’s makeshift altar. When I need a quick prayer, and can’t find the words on my own, it is readily available for almost any situation I can imagine.
I also love taking my children to Adoration with me, although currently, I am unable to listen to God while I chase them around the chapel – so, it’s doing me no favors to take them to Adoration right now.
So, how do I realistically pray?
Let me count the ways… although this is not an exhaustive list…
- I recently prayed the Rosary… in the bath… along with my “Mary” App, while washing my hair under the running faucet;
- I routinely use the time my children sleep in the back seats of the car to pray;
- I use two apps on my smartphone more than others – both developed by the Marian Fathers of the Immaculate Conception. “Divine Mercy,” and “Mary,” are both free, and provide me with a voice to pray along with the chaplets or Rosary while I’m cooking a meal, making the bed, or cleaning;
- I read the Bible and design images for my blog posts and Instagram account while standing at a counter in the kitchen;
- I participate in a weekly faith study as often as we are able;
- Every Friday, I go Live on FB in the closed group for Everyday Ediths, and lead a Divine Mercy recitation there, allowing me to prioritize the chaplet once a week;
- During the Consecration at Mass, I try to say–three times–the prayer taught by the angel of peace at Fatima: My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.
- I read spiritually based books… The current one I am reading (or, listening to when the website works) is Story of a Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux;
- I talk to God… a lot… especially while doing dishes…
I’m currently working on listening to God in the midst of all the noise in my life. The best I’ve found to truly listen, is to let everyone else in the house fall asleep, initiate The Examen, and then spend time at the end just sitting still – in the quiet – with Our Lord.
What about you, dear readers?
What are some of your favorite ways to pray?
How do you focus on your spiritual growth, while helping lead your children toward their own spiritual awareness and journeys?
Let me know in the comments!