So there I was, a 27 year old cradle Catholic, laying in bed, trying to pray.It shouldn't be THIS hard, I thought.
Why am I almost 30 and don't know a good way to pray well? Thankfully, that night, the Good Lord heard my aching heart and took the lead. He spoke directly to me deep within my soul. It is as if it was the first time I had heard Him...TRULY heard Him.
That night, He led me along the path of deep prayer as tears ran down my cheeks in gratitude. It is one of so many great graces He has given me throughout my journey in this life. I will never forget it.
Ask, and it shall be given you: seek, and you shall find: knock, and it shall be opened to you. - Matthew 7:7
But, it made me think....Why was I not taught how to pray properly? But wait, I was taught!I was a cradle Catholic and I knew all the prayers of the Church. The problem was that my prayer life growing up was very sporadic, rushed and quite immature.
Looking back, it is easy to see how God lead me through, giving me a willingness to be led by Him alone. And as He led, I followed.
But I needed more. More what? What did I need MORE of? Then it hit me....I needed a PLAN!
I gathered up all the prayers from my prayer books and missals. I was determined to make a daily prayer plan for myself - Morning prayer, Angelus, Rosary, Night Prayers etc. I was all in.
As a graphic designer, this was my jam! I made the cutest little prayer book for myself and FINALLY I had a structured prayer life, and it was personal and all mine. I used this little booklet for years, adding to it, subtracting, changing etc.
As the years have passed, my little booklet turned into worksheets for my children, coloring pages, cursive handwriting worksheets to learn scripture and so much more.
Having this little prayer booklet taught me 4 ways to Organize my Prayer Life:
1. MAKE IT YOUR OWN
Whether it is silent, meditative prayer, a rosary walk, memorized prayer, journaling, or any other way of communicating with God....whatever works for your personality and the way YOU relate to Him is most important. I combine a lot of techniques to stay close to Him.
Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trial as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.--St.Therese of Lisieux
2. STAY CONSISTENT
This is where I had the most trouble....and is also why I needed that little prayer book. Every day, every day, every day....pray, talk to Him, do whatever you can to connect with the Lord. And I have learned (the hard way) that when you don't feel like praying, THAT is when you need to pray the most. Keep on going!
'He who prays most receives most.'--St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori
3. CREATE A “SET TIME” FOR PRAYER
This goes along with being consistent. If you don’t have a “set time”, simply work it into your daily life.
Everyone, undoubtedly, has a set time for breakfast or coffee, a set time to get ready for bed, a set time for dinner, etc. Make a set time for prayer.
Depending on your lifestyle, find what works for you best. Upon rising and before bedtime are perfect “set times” and have always helped keep me on track, even if I fail to pray well during the day.
A lovely sweet nun taught me something as a child I have always remembered and done - start and end each day with the sign of the cross.
This VERY simple act puts your mind and heart in a place of prayer immediately. To this day, I wake and make the sign of the cross before my feet hit the floor in the morning...it inevitably leads into a short morning prayer for the day. Thanks Sister!
4. GET HELP IF YOU NEED IT
This sounds like a weird one. But after all, we ARE part of the Communion of Saints. We ALL work together for the good of the Body of Christ. If one falls, we help them up.
You may be the one falling, ask for help. Our Lady is ALWAYS listening and ready to assist her children in need. Even if you think your problem is insignificant, it is not. God cares deeply for you, for me, for all of us and He never leaves us nor forsakes us. Ask Him for help. Ask Our Lady to guide you closer to Her Son. Ask the Saints to pray for you. Ask your priest for ideas, help, assistance.
God has given us so many treasures and helps in the Catholic Church, we are not left orphans. We have everything we need to get to heaven. Just ASK!
“How happy I am to see myself imperfect and be in need of God's mercy.”--St Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face, OCD
Where there is a Will, there is a Way
God makes a way, even when it seems there is no way. And He has done this with me many times. I am so grateful to use my creative gifts for His glory (and for my own growth).
Even though all my little aids evolved as I grew, many things remain constant and I am grateful for having a PRAYER PLAN for everyday life.
Even if the days get crazy and slip by, I know that I always have some of my favorite go-to's:
- a journal page (one of my favorite ways to pray)
- a scripture list to refer to for holy reading
- or a creative coloring page to relax and contemplate the Lord's great gifts and graces
I can't tell you how much it means to me to have little organizational helps each day, week, month, to keep me on track! I am creative and have a million ideas swirling around my crazy brain at all times. These easy printables keep me organized and on track.
Now, at the end of the day, when I lay in the dark in bed each night, talking to my Lord, my best friend, my Savior, I thank Him for the great graces and unique gifts He has given me... and once again, tears of gratitude run down my cheeks.