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Help! I have no time to pray!

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How to pray when your life doesn't give you a spare moment

Dear Katrina,

How do you find time to pray or have any kind of meaningful prayer life? I’m a single mom of two wonderful little girls who are my heart, but between work and being their mom I never seem to have a moment to myself. I’m always rushing to work, hurrying through traffic to get them from daycare, speeding home to fix dinner, then chasing them around the house for bedtime. The minute I stop moving I just collapse in exhaustion!

I’m not a morning person and I need all the sleep I can get to function through the day so every time I’ve tried to get up earlier for prayer has never worked. If I pray at night before bed I’m asleep in two minutes. Church isn’t much easier with two squirmy toddlers.  I would be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of the moms that don’t work and can go to the mother’s group at church for fellowship and worship. I just need some advice on how to make this work better for me and be better at praying regularly.

Physically and Spiritually Exhausted

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Dear Exhausted,  

I know telling you “this too shall pass” doesn’t do much to remedy the current situation. but it can serve as an important reminder that the present is just a fleeting moment to either overcome or cherish, especially in the lives of our children.

My own son’s needy toddler stint seem like it was just moments ago, not years. That demanding little whirlwind of energy will be starting high school in the fall and now I have plenty of time to pray in the evening. It’s a bittersweet victory.

While it may be exhausting, embrace every moment that your little girls demand of you because the days when they need you less and less will soon be here. Forget about what other mothers have time for, because it will just be a source of frustration. Concern yourself only with what you have time for.

As a single mom I am sure you’ve managed to adjust to life on the go. That’s how I recommend you tackle this obstacle — by taking your Catholicism on the go. Pray in the car, listen to Catholic podcasts or radio, pray the Rosary while sitting in traffic, read the Bible or some religious material during your lunch break, pray the Rosary while going for a walk or run, listen to a Catholic artist like Audrey Assad while cleaning the house, pop into church for adoration — even if it’s only for five minutes.  Pray anywhere at any time.

You know that painting, The Angelus, of the two farmers in the field stopping in the middle of their work to pray … that’s you. There’s a reason that painting is so popular and beloved, because it’s real. It’s a true and relatable image that honestly depicts how the majority of Catholics live their faith — out in the world and on the go. I’ve never timed it but I would be surprised if the Angelus even takes five minutes to pray. If there were ever a devotion suited specifically for people and busy moms on the go, the Angelus is that prayer.

The best part about taking your faith out of the Sunday pew and beyond the walls of your home is that your girls will see you actively and practically living your faith. They’ll learn from your example how to adapt and incorporate being Catholic in realistic ways that fit right into their everyday life. Let that motivate and encourage you through your busiest days. And don’t forget the little prayers — grace at meals, the Morning Offering that you can make in the shower (I know a woman who used to recite the Apostles Creed and renew her baptismal promises every morning in the shower), or even pray aloud as you are driving your kids to day care. You’ll be amazed how quickly they are praying along.

The reality of it is that everyone has to make a conscious effort to add prayer to their life, even consecrated religious and stay-at-home moms. And yes, while some people have more time than others it still takes effort and is an act of will to choose to do so.

And as for missing the fellowship of other Catholics,  I understand that you don’t have the time to seek out groups in your parish and become involved in ministries. The upside to this is that, like prayer on the go, you get to take that Catholic fellowship out of the parish hall and into the lives of your friends, family, and co-workers. Aleteia actually has a little bot named ePaul who is designed to help you with that.

Don’t be shy about your faith, be willing to talk to about it, maybe not in obvious ways, but in ways where your faith influences your words and actions.

This is where you are in your life right now; in a few years you’ll be somewhere else. And such is life. You have the toughest job as a single mom, I know, but it needn’t be unnecessarily tougher by comparing your spiritual life to others. Where you are right now may not be perfect or idyllic but then again few things ever are. You’ll have to trust that there can be joy found in imperfectly practicing your Catholic faith.

Just like the rest of us, actually.

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