This blog is part of the Alumni Week 2021 Collection! Written by Mylene Moreau, NET Alumnus 2010-11.
Even though we hear that family life is sacred, the real day-to-day of raising children often feels far from it. The multitude of spills and fights and squeals are hard to reconcile with the sanctity we imagine in a daily prayer life. I want you to be encouraged today that parenthood doesn’t have to be a ‘pathetic prayer time’ season. Here are 5 tips, drawn from my personal experience, on how you can have a beautiful personal prayer life.
- Accept that prayer will look different. I struggled with this one for the first couple years of motherhood. I was used to personal prayer being alone in my room, first thing when I woke up, without interruptions. My time was my own. When I became a mother, I felt incapable of doing what I used to do, so I became a victim of my new loss of ownership over my time. It took a couple years for me to finally let go and shift my expectations. To embrace a prayer time that fit my new stage of life. To adjust instead of react.
- Create a routine and stick to it. Eventually, I adjusted in a concrete way. I knew I wanted Jesus to be central to my daily life, but I wasn’t prioritizing my time enough to really make him central. Instead of fitting it in when I had a quiet moment (ie. rarely), choosing the same time every day, made it stay consistent. I have experimented with different times to pray over the years but what my husband and I have found works best for our lives right now is to have the first hour of our day as prayer time. We set the kids up with breakfast, and we settle down with our coffees and pray. When they finish eating, they play independently. We are fully available to them, engaging with them as needed, but they know this is our coffee/ prayer time so they have learned to play really well at this time. Sometimes they pray with us!
- Make it easy for yourself to choose to pray. It’s really helpful to have something you look forward to when you pray. Knowing that prayer time is the time I get my glorious morning cup of coffee helps me to stay committed. I also like to prep the atmosphere the day before by having coffee ready to go, the main floor tidy, and breakfast easy to serve to the kids quickly. These are all small things that help it be easier for Marc and I to say yes to our time with the Lord.
- Let the Holy Spirit teach you how to pray. When my husband and I embraced prayer with our children present, we were shocked by what happened: our prayer times were still fruitful. It took time to truly learn from the Holy Spirit. To learn to have my heart and mind in prayer while also in a room full of ridiculous cuties. I see clearly how the Spirit has brought me to a place where I can be having a profound time of prayer as I am attaching a superhero cape to my child for the tenth time.
- Scripture is strong enough to penetrate any chaos. Yah, our lives as parents are ‘alive and and active,’ but … so is the Word of God (Heb 4:12). Much of my prayer life has been meditating on the daily mass readings. I chew on the words of the readings slowly. Often, I have had babies in my arms and did not have my hands available to me to read my bible or write in a journal. Instead of giving up, I read the daily readings on my phone, and ponder on them in my heart. I am always amazed by how the scriptures are just as powerful even with our limitations. God meets us in our active lives.
I wish someone had firmly told me when I became a parent: Prayer life will look different, but you can do it. It will be hard, but fight for it. Bad prayer days can be the exception instead of the norm. He is just as present to you in your vocation just as he is present to a cloistered nun. He will meet you where you are, dirty diapers and all.
Mylene is married to Marc Moreau they have 3 children ages 1-6. She is a stay-at-home mom while her husband works for Catholic Christian Outreach. They are currently living in Halifax and moving to the Toronto area this summer. Mylene and Marc did NET in 2010/2011.