We’re told in Scripture to “pray without ceasing,” but when you actually think about trying to DO that, it can seem…well…a little tricky. Especially if you close your eyes when you pray, you DON’T want to do it when you’re driving. Right? :-)
Fortunately, there are lots of little ways to “sneak prayer in” painlessly, even into a very busy life. For those of us entering Lent this week, this would be terrific to start on Wednesday (or even before) and find yourself firmly committed to six weeks later. Talk about a great new habit to form!
Here are a few I’ve discovered over the past several months…
1. In the time it takes me to blow-dry my hair in the morning, I can say ONE complete decade of the Rosary. Yep. Ten Hail Marys, just like that. (If you use extra conditioner or style your hair, you’ll have time for the Glory Be AND the Fatima Prayer, too.) And if you go to the gym like I do and end up with your hair wet MORE than once a day…guess what?
2. Driving somewhere? If your trip will take more than 15-20 minutes, you can pray a whole 5-decade Rosary behind the wheel. Turn off the radio and jump right in the moment you start the engine, and before you get to your destination, you’ll have accomplished a heck of a lot. You can use either use a finger rosary to keep count of the prayers or--wonder of wonders!--use your HANDS to count off the Hail Marys. (You knew there had to be a good reason our hands have ten digits.)
1. Have one minute? Say these:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
“Jesus, Mary, Joseph, I love you; save souls.”
“We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You--because by Your Holy Cross, You have redeemed the world.”
And, of course, the Sign of the Cross is good anytime, anywhere.
2. Have five minutes? Say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. It goes by fast, but it’s powerful stuff.
3. Grace before meals should be a habit already, but if it’s not, you can start. Grace AFTER your meal? Extra points!
4. First thing in the morning: “Lord, make me a blessing to someone today.” (Word of warning: when you pray this, be prepared for what may happen!)
5. The Angelus is designed for 6 AM, 12 noon, and 6 PM, but if you can’t say it all three times, lunchtime’s an ideal time—whenever your “lunch break” falls. (Mary won’t mind.)
6. One of my favorite prayers is St. Teresa of Calcutta’s “quick novena”: the Memorare, said nine times in a row. Mother used to have her nuns pray one set for whatever their need was, and immediately follow it with a second set in thanksgiving. Try it and see what happens!
7. Another one I love was a favorite of both Venerable Solanus Casey and St. Pio: “Deo Gratias” (“Thanks be to God.”). Fr. Solanus used to tell all he spoke with, “Thank God ahead of time.” You might find yourself uttering this after you see the results of asking to be a blessing!
And these are just a start. I’m sure, once you begin, you’ll think of lots more. Specifically in Lent, many people try to get to daily Mass, and many more attend Stations of the Cross. Both of those are excellent, and if your work schedule allows them, go for it. But for all the rest of us who can’t always make those structured worship opportunities—grab a minute, say a prayer, and you’re still blessed.
Have a great Lent!