Boisterous children, unwashed dishes, office deadlines and a cozy bed at the end of a long day — all of these can call to us more loudly than the quiet voice of God inviting us into prayer. We constantly juggle the urgent tasks of this earthly life, so it’s easy to miss beautiful moments to connect with our ever-present heavenly Father.
How can you make time for God when you don’t know how to drop everything and truly pray? Here are some ways you can satisfy your thirsty soul by injecting prayer into your busy life:
1. Start the day right
Your day may start off with a bang and not end until you collapse in bed at the end of the day. Set yourself on the right course by beginning your day with some spiritual reading alongside your bowl of cereal.
2. Set an alarm
You use an alarm clock to wake up. Some people wear an activity alert band to remind them to stand up at set intervals of time. Why not take the same approach to your spiritual health that you take with your physical health? Set alarms throughout the day to remind yourself to pray — even if it’s only a few words spoken with God.
3. Use your commute
Speak to God in the car. If you can talk to a passenger while you’re driving, why not talk aloud to God? If you take public transit, use the opportunity to engage in silent conversation with your savior.
4. Take advantage of audio
Listen to audio recordings of the Bible or a daily devotional. Tune in while commuting, exercising, stacking the dishwasher or taking a bath. Fill your ears with the sound of God’s word.
5. Open your email
Many websites offer to send you a daily email containing a mediation, saint story, prayer or text of the day’s Mass readings. Take advantage of this automation. The technology that can so easily distract you will now alert you to the day’s prayer.
6. Use your lunch break
Eat while reading the day’s readings, listening to a Catholic podcast or an online video. Keep a Bible or religious book in your desk to pull out at the beginning of each lunch.
7. Keep your Bible on your nightstand
Reach for it first thing in the morning or right before you go to bed to take in as much of God’s word as you can in that moment. Choose a chapter or pick a verse on which to meditate throughout your day.
8. Create a mental association
Place a sticky note on your bathroom mirror to remind yourself to pray every time you brush your teeth. Hang a sign at the base of your home’s stairs encouraging you to walk in prayer with God as you ascend the stairs. Soon, you will have established a habit of prayer.
9. Stay five minutes after Mass
If you don’t have the time or opportunity to make a special trip for Eucharistic adoration, stay after the recessional hymn to enjoy one-on-one time with the Blessed Sacrament. Avoid parking lot traffic and conclude your time at Mass by fortifying yourself before venturing back into the world.
10. Make an appointment with God
We can get so busy that we sometimes need to schedule date time with our spouses or jot down a reminder to call our loved ones. Our relationship with God is precious, too. If there’s no such thing as “free time” in your world, set up one more appointment — this time with God. Carve out time for daily prayer, weekly adoration, monthly Bible study — whatever you can do.
11. Pray before meals
There’s always time for gratitude. Before digging in to a meal at home or on the go, pause to thank God for his many blessings and offer prayer for those in need.
12. Make it a family affair
Sit around the table and read a short devotional after each dinner or each Sunday lunch. Kneel down together for bedtime prayers. Establish a daily rotation so that each family member can choose a prayer intention.
13. Create traditions around prayerfulness
Celebrate your family’s patron saints’ feast days with intercessory prayers. Light Advent candles with a short prayer. Place a bowl of holy water by the front door so that your family members can bless themselves when they come and go.
14. Pray on the road
My first grade teacher, an Immaculate Heart of Mary sister, taught me to say a prayer for the souls in purgatory each time I went past a cemetery. Consider the good you can do over time for your brothers and sisters waiting to enter heaven. Or remind yourself to pray whenever you pass a church.
15. Say a morning offering prayer
Pledge your day’s activities to God in your own words or memorize an existing prayer — like the morning offering penned by Father François-Xavier Gautrelet (see sidebar). By dedicating your day to the intentions of Jesus, the salvation of our souls, the reunification of Christians, and more, you infuse purpose into your experiences.
16. Offer it up
Sometimes life hands us trials that we must bear. Offer them up — even the small frustrations in life — as prayer.
17. Pick up some prayer cards
Prayer cards needn’t be procured only at the funeral of a friend or loved one (though we should dust those off and pray them from time to time). Order some prayer cards of saints to whom you feel connected or who are patrons of a cause near and dear to you and your family. Keep the cards in your wallet or purse and pray the prayers while standing in line at the grocery store or stopped at a traffic light.
18. Tap into ready-made prayers
Sometimes our minds overflow with so much activity that it’s a challenge to formulate prayerful thoughts to God. Use a prayer book — or a search engine — to find a prayer that suits your mood or your spiritual need. Pray about the stress, sorrow, anger or pain that is keeping your mind from being still. Take advantage of the words that others have crafted in guiding you toward your own conversation with God.
19. Take a walk
Even if you’re just walking the perimeter of your house while holding the baby monitor, create some quiet time for yourself in the presence of God’s creation. Let him speak to your heart and share your thoughts with him.
20. Change your tune
Do you sing in the shower or while tidying the kitchen? Instead of opting for the latest hits, try a hymn. If you think you don’t know any well enough by heart, consider Christmas carols — no matter the time of year. Singing of the glory of the Nativity is never out of season.
Megan Nye writes from New Jersey.
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.
— Written in 1844 by Father François-Xavier Gautrelet