This week’s character word is prayerfulness. I think we can all agree that this is something we could all use right now. Last year, seemed a little out of control. This year doesn’t seem to be starting much better. What the world needs now is prayerfulness, and lots of love. Pray for that.
My mother and father in-law were devout Catholics. They attended church every Sunday and wanted to know where you were if they didn’t see you at Mass. It wasn’t an intrusive, “Where were you?”, but they wanted you to know they were disappointed that you didn’t make it to church. They tried to instill in their eight children a commitment to show up every weekend at Mass, even after the kids were grown and on their own. You didn’t easily discuss matters about Jesus or even quote scripture, but, by golly, you went to Mass and John made sure everyone had memorized the Guardian Angel prayer. There was an understanding of what “obligation” to attend Mass meant.
So when my father-in-law gave his words of blessing, as he was dying, I will never forget what he said. Most of his kids were gathered around him in his bedroom at home for his final instructions and as he was pointing to the Crucifix on the wall, he said, “I don’t care if you don’t go to church, but you better pray every day that you get to heaven.”
At the time, John’s statement shocked me. My thoughts were screaming, “WHAT are you saying? — Telling your kids they don’t have to go to church?” But John, in his wisdom had figured out that the most important thing to do every day was to pray. The state of your heart, your relationship with Jesus is where it all begins. If you are praying daily, God is working in your life. He will take care of the rest. I had focused on the “not going to church” part of that statement. Going to church will be the by-product of growing in your faith, of praying every day. For during this past year, we now realize that church, as we know it, may not always be there.
Three Simple Words
Pray… every… day. Three simple words. I just finished reading Matthew Kelly’s book, “I Heard God Laugh.” He expresses the same sentiment. He suggests praying just 10 minutes every day to begin. And he has a prayer process for those who don’t know how to pray. Just begin. Close your eyes. Bow your head and pray. You get started and God will bring about the change.
When you pray every day, even for 10 minutes, you are connected to the Living God. He has worked miracles in shorter amounts of time. It is your relationship that will grow and next thing you know, your 10 minutes of prayer turns into an hour, and a longing to return to the church to be closer to Christ and part of His community.
Make It a Habit
Start with 10 minutes a day. It could be the first 10 minutes or last 10 minutes of your day. Or, if you are really bold– both! If prayer is new to you, it may feel awkward at first. But like any thing else, it just takes practice. God loves awkward! Keep at it. Schedule it in your day. Put it in your calendar the same time every day. —Every day. Find someone you know who is good at prayer and ask them to help you. Make a list of situations and people to pray for, if you need help. Make it a habit. It will CHANGE your life.
Thank you, John, for your words of inspiration. I’m praying every day. Praying for you and Alma, your family, my family and my friends, our community, the state, the nation, our world.