In the midst of homework, sports tournaments and practices and other extra-curricular activities, prayer tends to the last thing on a Catholic teenager’s daily to-do list. Not only is this the case for Catholic teens, but also the case in the lives of many adults as well. Prayer seems to become the bottom thing of the pile of work we do, and it gets buried in the dump. The irony is, prayer is an essential part in the lives of Christians, no matter what denomination you belong to. Even though Christians are divided in doctrines and teachings, the act of prayer is what unites Christians.
“How do I find time to pray?” some people ask me. Here is how I schedule my prayer life:
Morning: I wake up, I try to remember to do the sign of the cross. If it is a school day, I do my morning hygiene and breakfast in order to head out to the bus stop to catch the bus. When I catch the bus, I take out my breviary to pray Morning Prayer. If it is a non-school day, I pick up the breviary and pray it first, before starting anything. For some, it may be tempting to put your phone on your night table. For me, I keep my phone on my desk, on the other side of my bedroom. I keep my breviary on my night table, making it the first thing I pick up when I wake up either to pray it right away on the weekend, or reminding me to put it in my backpack on a school day. I also download the breviary texts on my phone via iBreviary, so if I forget my breviary on a school day, I still have texts with me to pray.
Midday: I always try to remind myself to at least do the sign of the cross before meals, especially before lunch when I would often forget. During lunch, I sometimes find my way to my school chapel just to visit the Eucharist, even if it just were a minute or two. Lately while working, I try to find a nearby church that is open. Most of the time, it is not possible as the churches are locked, but I have managed to find one for myself. It is very calming and prayerful environment, especially because not many people are present in the church building during noon.
Evening and Night: Our family prays together every evening, simply just a decade of the rosary and the reading of the gospel of the day, because as Fr. Patrick Peyton, the rosary priest said, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Sometimes, evening family prayer is the only time that recollects the family together after a busy day. Before I go to sleep, like the morning, I take out the breviary and pray Evening Prayer (even though it may be 11pm), but Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are the chief hours of the Liturgy of the Hours. Therefore, I strive to pray at least those two Offices.
A prayer routine varies from person to person. You have to find what fits for you. For me, I find a sense of renewal every time I pray the Liturgy of the Hours as it changes everyday over the course of four-weeks. I also like the fact that the Liturgy of the Hours is said universally as a Church along with the clergy and religious all over the world.
However, for some, praying the rosary or Divine Mercy chaplet may be one’s preferable style of prayer. Or perhaps singing along to praise and worship song can be one’s style. For some, painting icons is their preferred form of prayer.
Lately, I have wanted to be more prayerful. I have many “full-length” rosaries at home.
Inspired by the many paracord rosaries I have seen sold online though, I decided to make my own decade rosary a couple weeks ago. A difficult part of the rosary was selecting the cross. I considered puchasing a new one. However, while looking for one in my collection, I came across one I knew would fit. The cross is contains not only the corpus, but symbols of the four evangelists. At the back depicts the 14 stations of the cross. I realized I bought the cross at a discounted price of $1.00 in 2016 at Marylake Shrine after crossing the holy door and found no use for it until now. I decided to add three medals: the miraculous medal in honour of Mary; a medal of St. Joseph, my baptismal name and patron; a medal of St. Anthony of Padua with a relic at the back… I have a deep devotion to him.
Making a rosary is a prayerful act in itself. Consider making one for yourself or make one to gift a friend in need. But making the rosary would be pointless if you do not pray with it. I have tried to use it while on the bus, subway or on a walk rather than being on my phone.
Prayer is connecting with God. When we fail to place prayer at the centre of our daily lives, then we remove God from the centre and put Him to the side. Let us find ways to pray so to foster our relationship with God and therefore, strengthen our faith in God.
Read more: The Strength of My Day: Liturgy of the Hours