Each month, I will be including an update on my monthly prayer goals and assessing the previous month’s successes and failures. My hope is that the reflection on these goals will help me to become better at prayer and help me grow even closer in union with God.
At the end of April, these are the prayer habits that I currently practice:
- At dinner, we pray the Catholic Prayer Before Meals
- Before bedtime, we pray the “Now I lay me down to sleep prayer” with our daughter
- At night before we go to sleep, my wife and I ask for prayers for our needs and the needs of our friends and family
- I pray before I post/publish on blogs
- I begin each day with morning prayer
April Prayer Goal Report
You can see from the bulleted list above that I did succeed in adding daily morning prayer to my morning routine. You can read more about how I did that here. I firmly believe in taking small steps to achieve great results. I am very pleased with the new addition of prayer in the morning. As I said at the start of this blog, I was not very good at prayer despite my many years of theological study and readings about spirituality.
The next step will be to focus on the actual time during prayer. I have a number of bad habits during prayer that I would like to break. This applies to my morning prayer routine as well as time at Mass or other opportunities for communal prayer. I expect this to be a much more involved process than simply setting aside time to pray. But more about this in a minute.
Travel Prayers. I did a fair amount of traveling in April, but not much praying while traveling. On one family trip, we did start the drive with a Hail Mary and a Glory Be, but I can’t say that prayer became a huge part of my travel routine. The big obstacle I think was knowing some travel prayers. We even asked the question, “Can we pray to St. Christopher as the patron saint of travel anymore?” I wasn’t sure of the answer myself. I’ll be researching some travel prayers and posting them to the Everyday Prayers page and Catholic Prayers page as I find them.
May Prayer Habits Goal: Remove Distractions
This month, I will implement some prayer and meditation tactics to remove distractions during prayer. Some of the Catholic mystics and doctors of the Church have written about this topic. Buddhist monks call this the “monkey mind.” Our minds tend to wander during prayer and meditation and we need to get it under control. There are a few practices that I have tried already, but here are some prayer habits I would like to start:
1. Pre-plan morning prayers. While I have established a nice prayer routine in the morning, I haven’t settled on a type of prayer. Occasionally, I have sat down and lost time trying to decide what to pray or how to pray. This month, I’m going to plan prayer ahead of time so I can remove the uncertainty.
2. Breath-awareness. The most popular forms of meditation center around the idea of breath awareness. The idea is that even though we aren’t able to focus on nothing, we can at least focus on one thing. Simple breath awareness is one way to calm down and gain focus during prayer.
Prayer Books I Will Read this Month
Books change lives. There are so many books about prayer out there, that I want can’t help but seek their advice. In March, I read the The Screwtape Letters and found some really good prayer advice.
This month, I will be rereading Prayer for Beginners by Peter Kreeft. I read this book as a part of a Bible study back in college so it has been some time since I picked it up. It is a short little book that is easy to consume. I’ll share some of the insights I gain throughout the month.