Rod Dreher, on his Crunchy Con blog, has an interesting post up about the life of prayer. It's sad to me that Mr. Dreher left the Catholic Church; we definitely need people like him, and this post is the sort that causes me to regret his departure. Nevertheless, I think the post is a good reminder to all Christians that our interior prayer life should be something alive and growing, like a plant that strives upward through the darkness of the earth seeking the warm spring sun.
This doesn't mean, though, that all of us should or will pray exactly the same way, or that even as individuals the same sort of prayer will always be part of our lives. I've come to love the daily rosary, and have enjoyed praying the rosary at many different times in my life, but there have been times when I didn't say the rosary daily, or much at all. Sometimes that was my fault, and was the result of spiritual laziness. But there were other times when I wanted to take up the daily rosary again, and couldn't, due to various duties of my state in life that made it impossible.
Fortunately, I number several mothers among my family and friends, and they all agree that we don't always get to pray the way we want to. The family with one car may not make it to daily Mass; a mom with several small children may have to put aside the vision of a family rosary for a time; we might have to use the Children's Bible when doing our Jesse Tree readings, in order to keep the littlest and wiggliest from playing the 'make the person reading the Bible stop reading and giggle' game. None of this means that we're not praying the right way. Properly understood, in living out our vocations as wives and mothers we're offering our lives as an act of prayer. And as St. Therese taught us, there's a world of spiritual grace to be found in the tiny sacrifices we make during the day.
And there are abundant opportunities for such sacrifices. For example, we could change a diaper when we'd rather send the odiferous one to 'go see Daddy' since, after all, we've changed hundreds of diapers today and Daddy just got home. We could be patient as we begin yet another attempt to teach the multiplication of fractions to the fractious. We could be cheery on the phone to a friend who needs it, instead of looking daggers in the direction of the vacuum we finally got around to using today, only to have to turn it off when the phone rang. We could be patient with the husband who asks, a little sheepishly, for a couple of pairs of pants to be washed instead of informing him that we've just finished all the laundry and why on earth doesn't he put the dirty ones in the hamper instead of hanging them back up in the closet? We could give second chances to people who offend us, especially since they probably don't know they did. And we can share the tears of people who will never know we cried on their behalf during their time of sorrow.
This is my prayer. This is the way I pray, predominantly, in my vocation as a wife and mother. Though I add the rosary and a few other habits of daily prayer to this, I'm afraid I may never grasp the more enlightened forms of prayer Mr. Dreher speaks of at length in his post. In the end, that may not matter, as long as we listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and do our best to please Him.