Thursday, May 14, 2015

How to Pray Like a Honeymooner

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter.

(Pictures courtesy of our Mother's Day hike. If you'd told me, 10 years ago, that I would spend my Mother's Day hiking, I would have thought you were crazy. The two have officially become one, and Andrew has almost won me over to his crazy nature-loving ways. Almost.)

Okay, first of all, whenever I hear the word honeymooner, I think of this:


If you watched that clip and are suddenly overwhelmed with nostalgia, then we are kindred spirits...even if we are decades apart in age. ;-)

{pretty}



I get in these ruts with prayer. I feel as if, ever since I got married, most of my prayer life is extremely dry. It may have been that I was just semi-spoiled before, and maybe God gave me a lot of consolations. But honestly, I feel like I've had to re-learn how to pray as a married person.

There was the newness of sharing a room with a husband, combined with the strangeness of no longer living in a dorm that had a chapel where Jesus was present in the Eucharist 24/7. (Yes, spoiled. Love thee Notre Dame.) I had to re-learn how to pray...in my bedroom. Or in a big, spacious church, where other people were praying, too. And it was hard to focus!

We've been married for almost six years, and I've had some much better stretches with prayer than I used to. But, let's be honest, I tend toward anxiety by nature, and I have a really hard time settling down enough to pray. And then, there are also the million interruptions that come when you share a relatively small space with other people, especially if two of those people depend on your for survival and the third for companionship. 

Andrew and I have been good about having prayer be a part of our nighttime routine since before we were married (back when we'd have to pray together and then part ways for the evening...I don't miss those days!). So, even if our prayers are short at time, we have our own specific rhythm that we've developed over time.

But individual prayers...that's another story.

{happy}







I don't even think I had a set prayer routine for stretches of our marriage. When we were newlyweds, and I was in the ECHO program, the Liturgy of the Hours was a part of the flavor of that community, so I fell more deeply in love with that practice. I don't remember exactly, but I think I continued to pray it in some small capacity after we got married.

But then I had my Therese. My world was turned upside down, and suddenly my time wasn't my own, and neither was my prayer life. I still tried to pray, though.

At some point in the last year, I was listening to an interview with Auntie Leila about The Little Oratory. At the time, in great part because of my crazy pregnancy with Maria, my prayer life was all over the place. Then, I heard that interview and suddenly remembered, "Oh, duh. The Liturgy of the Hours." I fell back in to that practice again, only this time, I used online apps to pray it (since I often had to pray with a nursing baby in arms). My current favorite app is iBreviary. (Available for iPhones and Android devices and some others?) It's true to the text you'd find in the book form, and there are options for following the daily readings, too.

{funny}


(Please stop crushing the worm, Maria.)

What I especially love about the Liturgy of the Hours is that you have a built in structure to pray everyday and throughout the day. And it's all laid out for you!

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about with you today. I wanted to talk to you about praying like a honeymooner. And by that I mean, pray like a honeymooner in terms of your relationship with God. 

So, Andrew and I have been married for almost six years, and we've known each other for almost eight years. That isn't an extremely long time, but it's definitely long enough that we are no longer in the honeymoon stage of our relationship. It is easy to spend time together, to do things together, when you are still very much feeling "in love." Early on in our relationship, Andrew and I practically had to force ourselves to spend time apart. Now there are days that we have to remind ourselves to spend time together. It isn't because we don't still love each other like crazy. If anything, our love is deeper now than it was when we were dating - far deeper. We've been through so much together in that short time - difficult pregnancies and post-partum depression and surgeries and grad school and moves to totally new states and first jobs and...well, a lot. And we've loved each other through each of those things, supported each other, and we love each other now more than we could have ever imagined. The two have truly become one, and we feel each other joys and sorrows more deeply than we ever thought possible.

But let's be honest - you can't sustain lovey-dovey feelings forever. It's just not how relationships work. Yes, I still feel those lovey-dovey feelings from time to time. But for the most part, loving Andrew is a choice. I choose to love him, even when I don't feel like loving. And the same is true for him.

But sometimes, when we're stressed and I'm wondering, Why did I marry this man, exactly?!, it is helpful to recall those early days of our relationship. It's helpful to remember what it felt like to be head over heels in love. It's helpful to remember what that felt like, and to recall that that person - the person who I fell head over heels in love with - is the person who I am now married to. It's helpful to recall how much I used to wish I didn't have to say good night to him and go our separate ways at the end of the day. It helps to remember falling in love with his incredible blue eyes, and to take an extra moment to appreciate them on sunny days (when they look as blue as ever). And typically, when I remember all that, I get a taste of those feelings back. And even when I don't get a taste of those lovey-dovey feelings, I'm still usually deeply convicted, yet once again, that I love Andrew and that I'm glad that I've promised to always do so.

So, how does this relate to my prayer life?

{real}



There were plenty of times in my earlier life (especially late high school through college) when I was so head over heels in love with God. There were so many times that praying in a church or chapel was effortless, when praying the Liturgy of the Hours made my heart soar with love. There were so many times that going to Mass was a beautiful, consoling experience, and one in which I could actually pay attention to what was happening (sans wiggly babies in my arms).

And it helps, truly it does, to recall those times in my dry stretches of prayer. It helps to remember the "honeymoon days" of my spiritual life, to recall the silent retreat I took in college, my favorite places to pray on walks around campus, and how much I loved running up the block to our parish during my visits back home. And when I recall those things, I can't help but get a taste again of those feelings of consolation and love for God. And even when I don't get a taste of those feelings I'm still convicted, yet once again, that I love God, and I'm glad I have committed to always do so.

And of course, like with Andrew, my relationship with God is a relationship. It is not all dependent on me. And often times, when I put effort into my relationship with Andrew, that effort is reciprocated. When I put effort in my relationship with God, well, He's always there. He isn't there because I'm putting effort into the relationship. He's just there because He's faithful.

Yet, in those moments of dryness, I do find it extremely helpful to recall my honeymoon days in my relationship with God, and to recall how deeply I love Him and how deeply He loves me. And recalling that keeps me going in the rough patches.

God works tremendously during those dry patches. Tremendously. But it helps to form a habit of prayer, to get through those dry patches. It helps to not just throw out prayers whenever you feel like it, the way it's helpful to not just grab random snacks throughout the day, but never sit down to eat a meal. It's important to be nourished and fed by a regular prayer life.

There isn't a right or a wrong way to do this, but having a regular rhythm of prayer helps. It helps to have motions to go through on the days when you don't feel like going through the motions. It helps to have words to say when you don't feel like speaking. That prayer routine can look however you want - the Angelus said thrice daily, the Liturgy of the Hours, the daily readings in the morning, a Hail Mary at the key points in your day, a decade of the rosary prayed during naptime. Whatever it is, no matter how simple, I strongly encourage you to establish a prayer routine. Your life will be so much richer and healthier for it! Let yourself be nourished by God!

Still struggling with prayer? I do have a book suggestion for you...



For today only, the book is on sale in the Kindle store for only $2.99, down from its usual price of $6.99. So if you haven't gotten your copy yet, today is the day to do so!!!! Click here to buy your Kindle copy today! (Did you know that the book is also in the Kindle match program? If you already bought the paperback, you can actually buy the Kindle copy for only $2.99, anytime!) 

1 comment:

There was an error in this gadget