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Living a life of prayer in 2024

Maria Montemayor

Friday, May 24, 2024

Photo by Gianna B on Unsplash
“Today we begin the Year of Prayer; that is, a year dedicated to rediscovering the great value and absolute need for prayer in personal life, in the life of the Church, and in the world.” (Pope Francis, Angelus Address, Sunday, January 21, 2024)
In anticipation of the Jubilee of 2025, Pope Francis has called upon us to rediscover the importance of prayer. So, what does it mean to live a life of prayer, and how can it be done in 2024? When we think of prayer, we often connect it to routine. Like brushing our teeth in the morning, we can get into the habit of prayer by reading the breviary right after we wake up.
While it’s helpful to pray at a certain time every day, that routine can start to lack intentionality. For example, we could rush through prayers just to complete them. Or, if we only pray at certain times of the day, we can find that we don’t think about God for the rest of the day. We risk compartmentalizing prayer, and making it an item on our to-do list instead of an ongoing conversation with God.
I’ve been guilty of listening to prayers while folding laundry or reading something online. I’ve also prayed on the go: while walking, on the bus, etc. While the desire and effort to pray was there, the way I was praying was automatic and lacking conviction. I found it easy to be distracted or disconnected even while purposefully carving out prayer time. So, how can one develop a prayer life that is free from distractions? Here are some ways to pray with more intention:
Create (or find) a prayer space
My most meaningful moments of prayer happened when I adjusted the ambiance and location of where I would pray. Instead of praying on my bed, I sat at my dining table and lit candles. Having a more intentional prayer space allowed me to have more intentional prayer time. If you don’t have space at home, you can look up when a local parish has Mass or Adoration and spend time praying in the church before Mass or during Adoration.
Enjoy new religious content
The other day, I was driving to my parents’ house and tuned into a Christian radio station. Listening to songs about God immediately made me think of Him and even sing along to the songs. Even though it was a spontaneous form of prayer, I was more intentional singing praises to the Lord in the car than I was praying the Rosary on the bus because I was thinking of each word and I wasn’t distracted. Whether you listen to a Christian radio station or the SLHour podcast, watch a new episode of behold on Salt + Light TV or read a blog article, new Christian content can inspire you to think of God in new ways or get excited to praise Him or spend time with Him.
Pray with others
“The family that prays together, stays together.” Your friends and family members can help keep you accountable with your prayer life and also draw you closer to God. I have always enjoyed attending Mass and retreats with friends, family members, and even coworkers. I feel closer to them and to God when I worship with them and when I know that we are praying for each other. If you’re not able to pray with family members or friends in person, praying over the phone and online can be just as meaningful and intentional.
Remember that Jesus seeks you
Jesus wants a relationship with you on earth and, eventually, in heaven. Think about your daily work, activities, relationships, and actions. Do they lead you closer to Jesus or farther away from Him? You can offer up your day-to-day tasks, actions, sufferings, or sacrifices to Jesus, for His greater glory, for loved ones, or the souls in purgatory. You can seek Him in the people you meet and love Him by loving those He entrusted into your care. When something good happens to you, you can say a prayer of thanksgiving. When you feel stressed or upset, you can ask Jesus for patience or vent to Him. Prayer doesn’t always need to be formal. Communicating with Jesus and treating others well because of Him is an intentional form of prayer.

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