Saturday, July 16, 2022

Prayer Is A Muscle

Typically at home my wife and I will wake up the same time around 6 or 6:30am at home. We will do a morning offering at the kitchen table, meditate on the traditional readings for the day, read a chapter from The Imitation of Christ or Divine Intimacy, and then pray a rosary or intentions. Since I've been working from home most of the summer, it's been our morning routine. I'll try to hit up daily Mass once or twice a week, and the same for Adoration.

 The past few days we have been on vacation, and out of routine. I haven't been as intentional about this prayer routine, and to be quite honest, haven't prayed much at all. It's only been three days, and I already feel out of sorts and not in the best frame of mind. I know I could have gotten up early and found a quiet spot in the house to meditate on the readings, but I just haven't. It's like I took a "vacation" from prayer. I even ended up eating meat on Friday, and neglecting to pray for the people who I had asked me for prayers. 

I wrote about these potential "holes in the fence" where the Devil will capitalize on your lack of prayer in Bring Me My Weapon. It starts slowly, innocuously. My son and I took a kayak out on the bay yesterday, and you don't really realize how far out from shore you are until you look back. But it happens one paddle stroke at a time. Even now a number of months after Lent, I have put back on the twelve pounds I lost, simply from not fasting and not exercising regularly. 

Protestants are sometimes critical of Catholics for their "rote" prayers, but they shouldn't be. Prayer is a habit, and these so-called "rote" prayers can keep us in the practice rather than leaving it up to inspiration. Monastics know this, as they call it "the work of prayer." Prayer doesn't always just happen, just like acts of love in a marriage don't always just happen on their own--sometimes we do have to work at it. If prayer is a muscle, like our bodies, we can neglect to exercise it.

I'm looking forward to going home today and getting back into routine, but also as a reminder to take more responsibility for my prayer life and not leave it to the externals. It's hard when you're in vacation-mode, but we shouldn't take a vacation from our spiritual lives. Outside of it, t's nothing but emptiness and wordly stimulation that promises contentment but doesn't deliver. I've been lazy, negligent, and I can already feel the effects. Don't be the same!

1 comment:

  1. It sounds like you have learned something very valuable this vacation. That’s wonderful! The lesson will serve you well the rest of your life.

    One way we keep on track on vacation is to make some sort of ‘pilgrimage’, no matter how brief, how minor, each time. Maybe it’s a nearby parish with a saint one of us is devoted to. Maybe it’s a tiny shrine. It doesn’t matter except that it not become a big distraction from our re-creation work of being on vacation.

    We’ve done family hiking rosaries, joined our kayaks together in the middle of a lake rosaries and campfire rosaries. We definitely don’t have the same prayer routine on vacation, but we let the Holy Spirit guide us on how he wants to meet us on vacation.

    Long after we return, I find myself reflecting on the simple prayers of vacation, the simple moments as a family, couple or alone with God. Family vacations are not retreats, though I’m sometimes tempted to make them into such, but God meets us in beautiful, simple, little ways that feed our souls throughout the year.