To prepare for the release of To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach, I’m dedicating each week to a specific theme. This week’s theme is “Be Evangelized.” Even the most veteran of teachers and ministers need to be continually evangelized. As Catholics we have a treasure trove of devotions to help us be evangelized each and every day.
To be evangelized is to seek out opportunities for an encounter with Christ. This encounter is almost always during moments of uncomfortability.
To be evangelized means to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
And, believe it or not, prayer is one of the best ways to get uncomfortable.
Why is it uncomfortable? Because these prayer calls us to conversion. If you practice any of the daily Catholic devotions and prayers, for example, you will discover how far you are from the person you need to be.
If you are not uncomfortable when you pray, then you are missing something.
A Daily Dose of Catholic Devotions
In the last few years, I’ve added a variety of Catholic prayer practices to my life. I was always resistant to doing this growing up. I’ve got strong Baptist roots and I was hesitant to take up devotional practices, especially the ones that had Mary as the focus.
Now my days are organized around these daily prayer practices. They make me uncomfortable because they always point to where I am vs. where I should be. They pull me out of my comfort zone and onto a much more difficult path of following Christ.
Catholic devotions call us to conversion.
Here’s what I do.
Now, I hesitate to share this because we all know what Jesus said about prayer:
“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”
I’m not sharing this to brag or to make you think better of me. Each of these practices has made an incredible impact on my life because they lead me into an encounter with Christ. I want to share them because I want to invite you to try them too. From each of those encounters comes a call to become more like the person we are meant to be. I’m a sinner. I need these prayer practices more than anyone because I’m in constant need of God’s grace. I’m in constant need of conversion.
5:00-5:30 a.m. (or whenever I wake up)
Every morning I read the daily Catholic readings and pick one phrase that jumps out at me. I write it in a notepad. I refer back to that phrase throughout the day. Lectio Divina has four parts: Lectio (what the text says), Meditatio (what God says to me), Oratio (what I say to God), and Contemplatio (what God is calling me to be and do). I try to at least get to that second and third stage in reflecting on the phrase throughout the day. Most of the time I experience the contemplation, honestly, in my subconscious. Often something will happen during the day that reminds me of that phrase and shows me how I should act or react in any given situation.
6:00 a.m. & Noon
This devotional practice is so important to me that I just finished writing a book about it. The words of the Angelus are powerful. They have changed the way I think about my day, my life, my work, and my place in the world. Saying these words every day, especially when I would rather than be interrupted by the notification to pray, inclines me to become something I know I should be but have a hard time accepting.
In the Angelus we let God declare unto us rather than declare what we want. We let the Holy Spirit bring life into our lives. We promise to be handmaids. We ask God to let his will be done. We recognize God’s presence here on earth. We pray to Mary for help in being made worthy of what Christ has won for us. We ask God for the grace of his death and resurrection. And we look with joyful hope (even more so during the Easter Season when we pray the Regina Caeli) for everlasting life with him in heaven.
To learn more about this prayer, visit theangelusprayer.com.
7:30 a.m. while dropping of my daughter(s) at school and driving to work
I love this prayer time with my daughter. We pray a decade of the Rosary together on the way to school. I finish the rest on the way to work. I used to have a hard time with the Rosary. I thought it was boring. I couldn’t focus on the mysteries like I was supposed to.
Now I let my mind wander during each decade of the Rosary. I let the wandering be a gift from God. Each time my mind wanders I make a connection to the mystery I’m supposed to be meditating on. This always brings new insights into the thoughts I have about my life and days. If I start thinking about work, I don’t get angry at myself for the distraction. I turn the distraction into a meditation. I let the mystery bring in a new perspective on whatever it is I am thinking about.
During Lent I’ve been trying to think and pray for specific people during the mysteries. This helps inform the kinds of petitions I offer to God about each person.
The Examen & Prayer Intentions
4:30 p.m. or the end of the work day
At the end of the day, I take that notepad with the morning Scripture verse on it and I make two columns: Prayer and Thanks. In the Thanks column I write down at least three specific moments of the day that I am thankful for. These are three things that I could insert into a sentence starting, “God is good . . .” Under prayer, I write down various petitions for the people in my life and for my own personal life. This is short, but it is a miniature examen at the end of the day.
5:30 p.m or dinnertime
Our family always starts our meals with “Bless us O Lord…” Our kids won’t eat without praying this anymore. It’s a sacrifice and discipline that they have developed very young.
7:00 p.m. or whatever time the kids go to bed
Our family won’t go to sleep without prayers ether. We pray, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” together each night. Lately, my wife and daughters wish each other good night saying, “Sleep with the Angels!” I love that.
What’s the point?
Writing all of that out makes it seem like it is more time-consuming than it really is. Like I said before, I used to avoid these kinds of prayers. I didn’t think I would get anything out of them. In all honestly, I was right. I don’t get anything out of them. They get me out of myself. Meaning, I’m pushed by them. I meet God in various ways because of these prayer practices and he’s always calling me out of my comfort zone and onto his path.
I didn’t add all of these things to my day all at once. I added them one at a time and many of them came about as a family habit rather than a personal habit.
If you are interested in reading more about how to make prayer a habit in your day, refer to challenge 5 of chapter 6 of To Heal, Proclaim, and Teach.
Read more about that here: healproclaimteach.com/chapter6.