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Help! My prayer life needs your prayers!

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Katrina Fernandez - published on 10/06/16

Katrina Fernandez has good advice on what to do when you just don't want to pray

Dear Katrina,

What do you do when you absolutely don’t want to pray? I don’t have the time but I also don’t really have the desire to pray. I really want to want to pray but I just don’t have the discipline. So what’s there to do?



Dear Texas,

What’s there to do when you don’t want to pray? Plenty.

My question to you is, why don’t you have the desire to pray? What about prayer is putting you off right now? I know you said you don’t have the time to but we both know that’s really an excuse for some bigger underlying issue. At least you want to want to pray. That’s a good start and it shows you acknowledge the necessity of prayer in your life.

The most straightforward solution to your spiritual apathy I can give you is to suggest you go to confession. Whether you think you need to go or not, go. Just from my own personal experience, I find it increasingly difficult to have an active prayer life if I’m in need of confession. Sin and guilt have crippling effects on our spiritual well-being if we aren’t regularly put in check with a good confession.

Another prayer killer is a lukewarm faith. When I start to get comfortable with my life the temptation to need God less starts to creep in. Taking your faith for granted can happen to the best of us.

Isolation from other Catholics can also be crippling to your devotional life. Just being in an environment with other Catholics and talking about your faith can be enough to reignite your enthusiasm.

Once you’ve pinpointed the reason you don’t want to pray, the right solution will become apparent. Start with a good confession and a clean slate, recognize the root cause of the behavior, and then start small. Be forgiving of yourself and don’t give in to apathy.

Are You Praying Right?

Praying is so much more than what we typically think it is. Praying isn’t just reciting the rosary, praying novenas, or taking our petitions to God on bended knees. It’s also listening and being present. Prayer can be put into action by doing acts of kindness and charity. Prayer can be a wordless 15 minutes in silent adoration. I’ve done some of my best praying in museums in front of art, on a hike, and while watching the sunset from my back porch.

Also, prayer doesn’t have to take up large blocks of our time everyday. As a regular lay person with a family and a full time job, spending hours a day in prayer isn’t practical or expected. Pray when you can, where you can. You may find being a little more forgiving of yourself can take some of the pressure off and in turn make it more likely you’ll actually want to pray more.

Start small. Pray before every meal. Pray in the evening (I still haven’t mastered morning prayer because I am not a morning person) or maybe set your phone or watch alarm for noon to say a quick Angelus. The point is to pray whether you feel like it or not. It’s when you don’t want to pray that you need to the most.

Oh, and finally? If you really do want a better prayer life, here is the simplest and most foolproof way to get one: Ask our Blessed Mother to give you one. Then hold on to your hat. Or your prayerbook.

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