When You Can't Do Prayer, Be Prayer
Boy we’ve got a lot to do everyday, don’t we? I take care of six of my grandchildren all day almost every day and that includes home school. Now if all I had to do was to keep them alive until the end of the day I suppose I would have more time. Nope, there are dishes, laundry, trying to keep the house looking just short of a disaster area, meals, baths, kids wanting to do this, kids wanting to do that, kids needing this and that, potty training, kids who are supposed to be potty trained and forget now and then, mediating disputes, planning curriculums, implementing curriculums and the list goes on and on. Standard taking care of children day. That doesn’t leave much time to set aside for regular prayer. All those who find time to pray raise your hand…you are doing better than me. Finding time alone to pray would actually be a welcome mini-vacation for me.
We’ve got a lot of things to pray for too, don’t we? Praying for ourselves, for our families, for our friends, for our church, for the Pope, for the world. Praying for babies that are being aborted. Prayers of supplication, prayers of intercession, prayers of praise and worship. How many rosaries can you say in one day? It can be overwhelming sometimes. It can be daunting.
Today, September 7, the Pope has asked that we join him in a day of fasting and prayer. Fasting does not really take extra time, just extra discipline. But how can we fit an entire day of prayer into a schedule that is already so full? The only way that I have found is by realizing that there are many ways to pray and that sometimes we can turn everything we do, even the smallest, ordinary, most menial task into prayer. When we can’t do prayer, we can be prayer with every breath we take, with every move we make, with every beat of our hearts.
One small way to pray is what I call wear a prayer. Wear your rosary, wear your crucifix or other sacramental but wear it with intention and the awareness that you have it on and why. Wear it on the outside of your clothes so that you will see it throughout the day. Touch it throughout the day thinking of your prayer intentions. Let it remind you all day long that you have a specific reason to pray and then stop for just a moment to send up a prayer. In the case of the Pope’s intention for today you can write it on a note card and hang it from a string around your neck. Often people will see your wear a prayer and ask you about it. Telling them may also cause them to pray as well.
Another way to pray that doesn’t take extra time is a sigh from the heart prayer. What this means is that we choose to put love in our hearts for God and for what we are praying for. It is not necessary that we feel a welling up of emotion. We choose to love, we have a desire to have love and throughout the day we allow this love and desire to just sigh from our heart in a prayer. Sometimes the heart just sighs out one word or a name. I have often had more answers to sighs from the heart than for many other prayers.
Another way to pray throughout the day is to make everything you do a prayer by joining it to Jesus and by doing it out of love. In this way doing the dishes or the laundry becomes a prayer. Smiling at someone becomes a prayer. Entering a room can be a prayer. Every action can be joined to Jesus or done for the love of God and it becomes a prayer.
Lastly, we can offer every breath we take and every heartbeat as a prayer. I often do this at night before I go to bed so that as I sleep I can still be offering prayers. When we offer our heartbeats and each breath in love and a desire for them to be joined to Jesus and His Heart they too can be a prayer.
As we join the Pope today in fasting and prayer there are many of us who will be able to hit our knees or to pray a rosary. Along with that we can remember that there are many ways of praying from more traditional prayers on our knees, to an on going interior conversations with the Lord. We can turn every moment in an ordinary day into a prayer. Doing the dishes can be a prayer. Even going to sleep can be a prayer. When done with the intention that it is a prayer; when done out of love for God and the people we pray for or even the desire to have such love; when joined to Jesus and his love; anything and everything can be a prayer.
In this way we imitate the Saints. We imitate St. Therese and her Little Way or St. Theresa of Avila. We are called to be holy in our lives just as they are. We are called to holy in little and ordinary ways. Like St. Therese, who was known for completing even the most mundane and ordinary tasks with great love, dignity and devotion.
With every breath we take, with every move we make, with every beat of our hearts…pray, pray, pray.