Prayer Is a Battle

For years, my parents had this worksheet from my younger sister's religious education class hanging in the house's upstairs hallway:

Growing up, this little poster reminded me that living a Catholic life meant "praying without ceasing" (1 Thess. 5:17). As I grew older, however, I found it more difficult to do just that. Surely the Christian life is not meant to be easy, but to pray constantly often seems inconvenient or even impossible. 

Why do we receive this impression of prayer? 

Because prayer is a battle. I did not make that up; that's an exact quote from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Take a look:
The great figures of prayer of the Old Covenant before Christ, as well as the Mother of God, the saints, and he himself, all teach us this: prayer is a battle. Against whom? Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God. (CCC 2725)
I've alluded to the battle of prayer in several earlier posts (like this one). Now, I would like to share with you some practical strategies for keeping prayer a priority. Obviously, most of us pray at "chrich" and maybe even "befor" we eat. But how often do we pray "in the car" or "at the movies"? Do we make prayer a priority in our lives, or do we feel as though we don't have time to pray? Here are some ways I set aside time for personal prayer even when I'm swamped with responsibility:

Pray in the car or on your way to class. When I'm home for breaks from school, it's difficult to have a quiet space to myself. I take advantage of those quiet times I have while driving alone. Sometimes I'd prefer to listen to the radio, but I have to remind myself that prayer takes precedence and that these few minutes in the car might be the only quiet time I have that day. When I'm at school, I might pray while walking to class (although I must admit that I don't do this as often as I should). As I drive/walk somewhere, I'm preparing for the next event of my day. What better way to begin than in prayer? Even a few minutes of prayer can change my disposition for the day.

Pray in the shower. This one might seem strange, but we all need to shower! Instead of letting your thoughts wander or singing at the top of your lungs, use that time to pray. (Of course, don't forget that St. Augustine said: "He who sings prays twice.") Once, a priest suggested that I pray every time I go to the bathroom. After I got over the initial shock that an elderly male had acknowledged my restroom habits, I decided his idea wasn't half-bad. Whether it's showering or brushing your teeth, we all need to complete certain tasks on a regular basis; why not turn them into moments of prayer? 

Pray while completing household chores. I hate doing the dishes. It may be my least favorite chore. However, it gives me an excuse to pray even when I have a thousand other tasks to complete. Pray while vacuuming, dusting, or making dinner. If I am not praying while cleaning or cooking, I'm usually worrying or indulging in wandering thoughts. Prayer is more productive. 

Stop thinking about it. Just pray. Do I have time to go to the chapel? It doesn't matter; I can pray right here. While there is something indescribable about sitting in the physical presence of Jesus Christ, sometimes all we can manage is a two-minute-long teeth-brushing prayer. God appreciates both forms of prayer. 

The Catechism instructs us thus:
It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. 
The time of the Christian is now. Pray! 


Stay tuned to one more catholic for updates on the Marian Virtue Project during this month of profound humility. 


  1. This is great! So true-and the shower is a PERFECT place!! Haha sometimes, I'll stay in the hot shower longer, because "I'm not finished with this decade of the Rosary yet, so let me luxuriate for the final Hail Marys" :P During my wild and crazy single days where I frequently went to night clubs, a friend of mine would send up silent, quick prayers for different people that she would see or encounter who seemed like they needed some divine help. Prayer is great!


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