Keeping a good and fruitful Lent - part 4
On prayer - disciplines to do with our relationship to God
Prayer is the second traditional expression of inner penance or conversion. And as with fasting it is easy to overstretch ourselves at the beginning of Lent. I would suggest that first we consider how often we pray during the day, rather than the quantity of solid prayer, which can then come naturally.
Imagine a rolling landscape with electricity pylons carrying high tension cables. The pylons have to be spaced taking into consideration the shape of the land. If they are too far apart the cable will droop to the ground and the power fail. Now consider your daily life, and the pylons as times to pray and connect with God. What I suggest is that we need times of prayer throughout the day according to the landscape of the day, i.e. what sort of thing we are doing.
When we rise in the morning we could pray an acclamation of praise (e.g. "Glory to you; glory to you, O Lord.") And then offer God the day to come for His glory. You could also ask for His help in things that you are concerned about.
At meal times we thank God for the gift of our food and ask Him to bless the food.
Whenever we walk we can pray a suitable repeated prayer. I use the Jesus prayer: "Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner." I might sometimes offer the prayer for someone I pass by in the street.
Around 9am 'ish we could pray for the gift of the Holy Spirit, as 9am (the third hour) was the time the Holy Spirit descended on the disciples on Pentecost. We might know a tradional prayer to the Holy Spirit and pray it.
At midday we might recall that our Lord was nailed to the cross and was lifted up. We might offer to God a prayer of adoration and praise for our redemption in Christ. E.g. "We adore you O Christ, and we bless you, here and in all the churches throughout the world, for by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world."
Similarly we might remember Our Lord's death (at 3pm) and give thanks that He died for love of our love. We could pray for the needs of others, and say a Hail Mary for them.
At any time we have 20 minutes free we could pray the Rosary.
At any time we could open a Bible/Missal and reflect on God's word most especially something from the Mass readings of the day. (These can be found on universalis.com and elsewhere online). You could visit this blog where there will be a short reflection on the readings of the day.
One or more times a week we could visit the Blessed Sacrament in a Catholic Church near by. This can be a little pilgrimage. A time to adore our Saviour Jesus Christ in the most holy sacrament of the altar.
Attending Mass is of course the summit of prayer, where we bring the sufferings and prayers of our daily life and offer them to Christ in His sacrifice on the Cross, where He transforms them, and offers Himself to us in the Blessed Sacrament.
Lenten counsel no 4: With discipline in prayer, do not try to do too much all at once. Don't set yourself up to fail. Build things up gradually and sustainably. Spread prayer throughout the day in a way that you can manage and which means you keep in touch with the Lord of your life.