My first thoughts in the year 2016 centered around prayer, mostly that I don’t do enough of it. My paths are paved with the best intentions.
Each season of the Church year I dutifully pick up the accompanying prayer book from church. I imagine my family gathered around the dinner table in shared devotion. Then life happens. Dinner is chaos and the seasonal prayer book remains unopened in the drawer.
Mass is more often tense than prayerful. I listen to my children’s whispered questions while attempting to prevent their fighting. Sometimes I sit in my seat quietly fuming, embarrassed, or exhausted. Aside from singing and following the readings in the book, the experience doesn’t often leave room in my mind for quiet reflection or deep prayers.
Prayer at Home
Most nights by the time I force myself into bed, I am too tired to remember to pray. My brain only stays conscious for moments before drifting off. In those moments if I do remember prayer, it is in thanks for all of my many blessings and quick prayers of protection for my family.
If my prayers go further than that, I often get wrapped up in anxiety of all the “what-ifs.” As I wrote in Breaking the Silence, “When I prayed for my children at night, I prayed for them to avoid specific ailments and harm. These thoughts spiraled into detailed imaginings of the harm, leaving me in a fit of worry.” As a person prone to anxiety, this is not a good way to begin a sleep cycle.
Like most people, I start out the year thinking of ways I can change for the better. Praying more is a great way to start that process. But prayer doesn’t have to be scripted.
My second thought in the new year: love is a prayer. Even though I don’t voice the words in my head, each time I embrace my children and feel love surging through me, it is a prayer of thanks to God for my blessings. I don’t doubt that He hears it.