Starting Over in Prayer
As I mentioned in my post on our spiritual reflections and spiritual discernments, I talked about how we should constantly be analyzing how we are doing (whether it be weekly or monthly) and when we are doing great we should be adding more “reps” or “weights” to help build our spiritual muscle. I did also mention that we should also decrease if we are overburdened.
Unfortunately, I haven’t really been keeping up on my end of the bargain with decreasing. I’ve felt an incredible sense of guilt with the idea of dropping some of my favorite prayers. The thought for me is “its important to do this, I shouldn’t just drop it”. But, of course, I’m not listening to my own advice! I’ve been praying a lot of maybe I should just start over from scratch, get back in touch with my earlier days when I started off light and build from there, but of course the guild would come right back.
The other day I had one of those moments that just stopped me in my tracks. On my way to work and back home, I listen to religious talks by different Catholic speakers. I swap between these talks and my own personal CDs as I get tired of radio. However, listening to Archbishop Fulton Sheen give a talk on prayer, I was floored as I heard what he had to say regarding prayer. He said “do not be afraid to remove the dead wood of our prayer lives. Sometimes it is best to just start fresh. God will not be angry, in fact, we might even find a bit of renewal in this starting over.”
I just couldn’t believe how I’ve listened to this talk several times before, never even paying attention to this part, and BAM! I get smacked across the face with a spiritual 2 by 4. I’ve found that these talks are incredible. They always hit you at the right time when they are needed, and I always seem to grow from them even if I don’t “need” them.
After hearing this, I reflected upon it throughout the work day. On my way home from work, I listened to what Archbishop Sheen said again. It resonated with me so true, that I decided right then and there to do just that, start over. Not just, dropping my prayer life down from 8 things to 5 or 6, but starting over. I wrote down everything I was trying to do and put it on the list of prayers to begin when I’m ready to add weight. Immediately, I felt a burst of energy. On top of that, I felt that I was doing what God wanted.
It is no coincidence that that CD was chosen to be heard at that precise time. No, God’s providence always reigns supreme. For those that open their hearts and lend their ears to God’s Will, incredible things are revealed. God knows what is best for us. Even when we think we know better, when we surrender our will and let God take control, we find ourselves in an even better and happier place than we were before.
To top it off, on my drive today, I was listening to a talk by Matthew Kelly titled “A Call to Joy”. I highly recommend anything by Matthew Kelly as he has a charm and a style that strips away most of the “technicality” of the faith (without stripping away the faith) and translating it in a way that allows us to grow using today’s language. I’ve listened this CD…a lot, and thanks to God’s providence, BAM! Another spiritual 2 by 4 across the face. This one wasn’t nearly as stop dead in your tracks as Archbishop Sheen’s, but it was still noticeable.
I got my idea of spiritual examinations whether it be monthly or weekly or whenever (but often), from Matthew Kelly’s idea of how his faith blossomed from a friendship. His friend always challenged him and when Matthew had gotten used to the added prayer, his friend challenged him to add something else. Similarly, my prayer life grew like this too. It seemed though, and as I recall thanks to my friends Stephen and Jonathan, that we both would add something on a more monthly basis. So, of course, I’m back to the maybe monthly is better side again. Its a work in progress, but it may be something that depends on the person, as well as that person’s state in life.
If you have been struggling with your prayer life and keeping on top of it. I’d first suggest removing a couple of prayers from your list and seeing if that helps. But, after how just taking Archbishop Sheen’s words to heart, I am amazed at how my list of about 8 or 9 items, down to 1, has made that 1 time of prayer so much more…intense. It allows me to refocus my mind and soul onto that one moment and really pray. It is revitalizing and I’m excited to see how things will grow.
However, if your prayer life is blossoming, great job! Keep up the awesome work! Just remember not to overburden yourself, and really get in the moment of the prayer.
When you pray, you are giving God everything. Just make sure that you take a moment and listen, and let God do some of the talking.