We always hear how powerful prayer is, and how important it is to have a healthy prayer life. While knowing all the positive benefits prayer has, we tend to push it off with excuses, like not having enough time. I use this excuse often, avoiding much needed prayer.
There can be many deterrents that keep you from including prayer in your daily life, but I want to share with you my prayer life, what is a “healthy” prayer life, and ways we can improve our prayer lives together.
My Prayer Life
Currently, I think my prayer life is poop… yes, poop. Since being thrown for a loop, having a car accident causing a huge change in routine for about two months, I’ve strayed away from my consistent “healthy” prayer life.
When I was committed to it, I found peace in my prayer routine. I was listening to Fr. Mike’s Bible in a Year podcast every morning, reflecting on my day with my Monk Manual, and going to adoration weekly, every Wednesday and Friday.
I often hear how having a consistent prayer life is good, but can also be an issue, how over time the prayer becomes a part of a routine and loses its meaning. I never felt like my prayer routine lost its meaning. Even though I had planned on doing the same actions, the content changed often. I was hearing different Bible passages daily, having different reflections, and praying in different ways at adoration.
To some, my prayer life seems great, but I’ve always felt like I’m not doing enough. Just because there is so much content out there, so many books and podcasts, so many recommendations and advice, it feels like I am not doing everything I can to have a “healthy” prayer life. However, I realized there is no one “right” way to pray.
What’s a “Healthy” Prayer Life
Everyone has their own “right” way to pray, and many like to share how this and that way is better than the others. However, prayer is a beautiful, personal way to speak with the Lord, and it can happen in many different ways and take many forms.
What may be a “healthy” prayer life to one person, might not be the best way for others to pray meaningfully. There shouldn’t be a checklist that we need to complete in order to have a “healthy” prayer life. Rather, the healthiest way we can pray is whatever brings us closer to the Lord. We determine what “healthy” looks like to us. Whether it’s reading spiritual books, reciting prayers or sitting in silence, we know what ways can bring us closer to the Lord.
Feeling the pressure to live a “healthy” prayer life determined by a checklist of things to do can deter us from praying at all. I’ve had experiences like this, thinking if I don’t have an hour to carve out to sit and read a spiritual book or time to drive to an adoration chapel, I won’t be able to pray.
This mentality comes from the evil one to prevent us from reaching out to the Lord when we tend to need Him most. I cannot tell you how many times I’ve forgotten I can just pray to the Lord simply by saying, “Jesus, I trust in You” amidst my workday. In the times that I have remembered and said this, I can feel a shift in my attitude and mindset.
Prayer can be a reading, a guided meditation, saying an Our Father, going to Mass, journaling, or simply calling on the name of Jesus. A healthy prayer life is one that is consistent and brings you closer to the Lord.
Making Prayer a Habit
Just like other tasks in our lives, we should make time to pray and make it a habit. We shouldn’t leave prayer up to feeling, doing it only when we “feel” like it, because I know, at least for myself, it won’t happen. We must form our own healthy prayer habits according to our wants and needs, while also considering what the Lord wants and needs from us.
If you’re like me and looking to refresh your prayer life, or start it anew, here are some ways we can improve together on how to make prayer more of a habit in our daily lives:
If I wanted to be able to play tennis, I would have to consistently practice. So, if I want to have a healthy prayer life, I would need to be consistent just the same. This can entail setting a time in your schedule to pray. It can be however long you want or include whatever it is you feel called to do. For me, I plan on praying in the mornings when drinking my coffee by continuing Fr. Mike’s Bible in a Year, reading a daily prayer book, and utilizing the Hallow app (that I just downloaded right now and have heard nothing but great things about).
Know What You’ll Do
Half of the battle for me is figuring out what I am going to do to pray, or how to start. Figure out beforehand what you’ll be doing, so you can make the most out of your prayer time. If you like to have options, like me, determine them beforehand as well. I have a bag that has a daily prayer book, three saint books, a journal, the Bible, and a Rosary, so that when it’s time to pray I know I have everything in one bag to choose from. Knowing what you’ll do shouldn’t feel the same as a to-do list. If it starts to feel that way for me, I spend my prayer time in silence and…
Listen for the Lord
Most of the time we think healthy prayer is about what we are doing, but it all about what He is doing. We can forget that the purpose of our prayer is to listen for the Lord, to call upon Him in our lives. The reason we have our books and journals is for the Lord to speak to us through these tools. I sometimes feel called to continue reading a certain book, and have that chapter I just read be exactly what I needed to hear in that moment.
Create a Prayer Space
If you have the space in your home to dedicate to prayer, that can really help focus the body and mind to know that it’s time to pray. Since I don’t have the space to do that in my home, I just sit on the same couch to pray and that helps center me. Lisa wrote a blog that can further help us with Creating a Prayer Space in Your Home.
While I mentioned a few things throughout this blog, there are A LOT of prayer resources we can utilize to help us pray. Here are some of my favorites:
Novenas are short daily devotions (usually toward saints) that happen over the course of nine days. While they are usually prayed leading up to the feast day of the saint, they can be prayed at any time of the year. On our site we have free downloads for three novenas: Surrender Novena, St. Therese of Lisieux Novena, and Infertility Novena for Couples Trying to Conceive. If you want to pray a novena for a specific saint, you can search online to find it, and you can even pray a novena for someone and send them a beautiful card created by our friends at Novena Cards.
Listening to guided meditations can be very helpful. By having someone else reading to you, it can be easier to focus on their words. These are also good for those on-the-go, to listen while starting or ending the day. We have two short videos on our site that you can listen to: the Prayer for Spiritual Battle (which is a great way to start your day) and a 5-Minute Virtual Retreat. Other resources like Hallow app, Blessed is She and Franciscan Media (where you can read one minute meditations) are a great to subscribe to, if you want to receive notification reminders of prayers, meditations, and reflections.
Feel like you’re reflecting and conversing with others by listening to some holy podcasts. While we have our own podcast, Saints for Slackers (seasons one and two), some other great podcasts are from The Gathering Place by Blessed is She, Abiding Together Podcast, Thriving Thoughts by Dr. Sherri, and Red Bird Ministries.
There are many other great resources out there. Let us know your favorites! I’m here going on this journey, too, and we can help one another build better prayer habits. I hope you take your favorite tools, or find some that can help you to create a healthy prayer life this new year just right for you. I am praying for you!
As today is St. Elizabeth Ann Seton’s feast day, pray with her as she says: