(Post #2 of 4 in the series "Spring Training")
The first pillar of Lent is Prayer. Whether we do this as a community, by adding devotions such as the Stations of the Cross or Lenten Vespers to our schedules; or we add a rosary to our daily prayer life, Lent requires a little extra prayer.
Prayer is an essential part of preparing ourselves for our mission in life, and make no mistake, we all have a mission. Finding out what that mission is takes communication. Prayer is a communication skill that must be practiced on a regular basis. If we are not praying, then how will we know what God wants from us? How will we recognize His movement in our lives? The answer is that we won't.
Like an athlete during Spring training, during Lent, we are "coached" by the church to be more focused on bettering our prayer skills. As with any relationship we would like to maintain, our relationship with God requires that we talk to Him, and more than that, we must listen to Him.
Recently, I have been having a lot of trouble managing my prayer time. I have become complacent and not focused. I find myself rattling off my prayers and not paying attention to the words I am actually saying. This is not good communication. It's like someone who's watching TV and saying "Yeah... Uh-huh... Sure." while someone else talks about their day. I'm not listening. And I'm also not saying anything.
Bad. All around. But how can I improve it?
One of my favorite things to do is to pray the Divine Office. I love how all of the psalms of the day fit together so perfectly. But, in reality, I am so bad at organizing my time that hours get dropped and I don't spend the time I need to spend with the texts. In order to get the benefit of reading the Psalms, you can't be racing through them.
This Lent, I hope to be more reasonable about the time that it will take to say my prayers and where I will say them. Last year, I just stopped where ever I was and said them, The school cafeteria? Not the best, most prayerful spot.
If I am going to make this work the right way, then my day has to be planned around my prayer, not the other way around. I think that's the major mistake I made last year. Prayer comes first. Everything else follows.
My goal, this week, is to set up my schedule for the hours I will be praying.
How will you manage your prayer life, this year?