The month of November begins with the celebration of All Saints Day and the sobriety of All Souls Day. We’re on the brink of Advent, and it seems appropriate that before we begin in earnest to look for the Baby who is our Savior, we remember those who went before us.
It’s also appropriate, I guess, that this month of November has me thinking about prayer. I’m supposed to be praying for deceased souls and those in purgatory, after all.
But my prayer life could use some help.
You might have the mistaken impression, given that I host this little Mary Moment each week, that I’m pious, an example to hold up to your kids, or even good at this prayer. Myth buster: I’m NOT.
That’s not just fake humility either. Every single morning, a debate rages in me, one that holds my daunting to-do list on the one side and the amount of time I’ll need to complete my prayers on the other.
Yeah, there’s something to be said about squashing that debate and carrying through with my prayers, I know. But sometimes — many times — I feel like my prayers are a waste.
Don’t make me roll my eyes by offering me comfort or telling me that trying is what matters. I agree. What makes me roll my eyes is that I KNOW BETTER ABOUT MYSELF. Sometimes, I’m just not in it 100 percent.
How do I motivate myself, boost myself, make my prayers fruitful?
As I was thinking about this, I started looking through a quotes file I keep. I found this excerpt from Joseph Langford’s book Mother Teresa’s Secret Fire:
There is a simple key to fruitful prayer. It is to first take the time to touch God in faith before we engage in prayer, to be in a state of contact with him before “saying” prayers. Simply put, it is to “pray before you pray.”
This simple practice can change our experience of prayer. This may seem like a small adjustment, but it opens us onto a reality as large and powerful as God himself. Without conscious faith, our prayer is not true contact, not prayer at all, but simply cogitation. Transformation is God’s free gift, but it is only our free act of contact in faith that makes that gift possible. We will still encounter struggles and distractions—but we will at least be touching the hem of his robe, however briefly, every day of our lives.
If you’re like me, this quote is all well and good when you read it or hear it. But to put it into practice? Good luck.
That’s where I need to remember the heavenly cheerleader I have in my corner, the mother who wants nothing more than to see me succeed at this, the most important work I do.
I can turn to Mary and know, without a doubt, that she’ll be there for me. I can offer her my prayers before I pray them, ask her to make them beautiful, ask her to help me be open to God’s grace.
And why not? I don’t think it can hurt my prayer life, and if it helps it, well, all the better.