January dawns, fresh and clean. The beginning of a new year.
Although Advent is technically our new year in the church, January offers another jump-start – a chance to change and a renewed resolve to eat better, exercise more or waste less time online.
Making time for prayer is a common resolution. We might try to read more Scripture, make a Holy Hour each week or start praying the rosary.
But what if we looked for small moments each day – in the midst of what we’re already doing – to turn to God?
Here are 10 pockets of prayer to dig into for the new year. Times and places where we can meet God between work and home, kids and commute, chores and rest.
Try one and see where it leads.
– Pray when you wake up. Start each day with the sign of the cross, or pray the words of Psalm 118:24: "This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it." Rise 10 minutes before the kids get up and sit with a cup of coffee to center yourself in prayer. Let the word of God be the first thing your eyes see each morning.
– Bless your spouse. Say a prayer together before you each begin your daily work. Or light two candles while you’re getting ready in the morning: one to remember your spouse’s callings and one to pray for your own. Recall your marriage vows as you say "I do" for a new day.
– Pray while washing. Let the warm water of your shower (or the baby’s bath) remind you of baptism: your belovedness before God.
– Bless before school. When you hug or kiss your kids goodbye, add a quick prayer to your morning routine. At the school door, bus stop, daycare drop-off or kitchen table, pray for each one of your children in turn. Give thanks for teachers, staff and coaches, too.
– Pray while cleaning. While doing laundry, pray for each person in your family as you fold his or her clothes. While scrubbing dishes or sweeping floors, ask God to make clean what has been darkened by sin in your life. No task is too small to be made holy by prayer.
– Recharge on your lunch break. Read the day’s Gospel while you eat. Try midday prayer from the monastic tradition (available online). Or simply pray the Our Father with your table grace, to give thanks for "daily bread" with your noon meal.
– Maximize waiting. Time in the car need not be spent idling. While waiting to pick up kids, read or listen to the daily readings with an app on your phone. Remember you only need 10 fingers to pray a decade of the rosary. Let waiting become a spiritual practice.
– Take a coffee break. Sit in silence for a few moments in the middle of your day. Turn off the radio and commute in quiet. Let five minutes refuel your relationship with God.
– Give thanks while cooking. While grocery shopping or making dinner, pray for farm workers, truckers and all whose hands brought food to your table. Remember those who are often forgotten while you do work that is often overlooked.
– End the day with God. Try a short Ignatian "examen" to reflect on your day through the lens of faith. Notice where you saw God, ask forgiveness for moments of sin and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide you tomorrow.
Let this new year bring small moments of powerful prayer.
(Fanucci is a mother, writer and director of a project on vocation at the Collegeville Institute in Collegeville, Minnesota. She is the author of several books, including "Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting," and blogs at www.motheringspirit.com.)
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