We all know that we should pray every day. Prayer connects us to God and allows grace to continue to work in our lives. At its core, prayer is communication and communion with God. We would never go long without communicating or spending time with our loved ones, yet many of us find ourselves struggling to make time to be in communion with God. We might even yo-yo, or go back and forth, between seasons of disciplined spiritual practices and nonexistent prayer.
How can we avoid the yo-yo prayer routine this year? What is the best way to make prayer a priority in our lives this year?
4 Ways To Make Real Spiritual Progress In 2023
1. Structure prayer around things you already do every day
You may need to battle to build prayer into your daily life. Instead of trying to add another step into your daily routine, you can make prayer part of something you already do. You already brush your teeth, make your lunch, and go to bed. These are all likely already part of your everyday life. Use that to your advantage as you begin building your prayer life.
Start by adding a prayer to the thing you already do. Say a few Hail Marys while you brush your teeth in the morning. Have a daily commute? Pray a decade of the rosary. By structuring prayer into your life this way, you are adding on top of good habits you already have, and you will be less likely to forget. Over time, you can add to your routine.
2. Start Small and Build
One of the pitfalls of building a daily prayer life is trying to do too much at once. When you set the bar too high, you risk seeing daily prayer as an all or nothing. Either we hit all the marks, or we hit none of them. Instead, we should see this as a process. Start small and slowly build.
Once you have a consistent prayer routine, you can begin to add longer prayers and devotions. Starting with daily Hail Marys can lead to praying the Angelus at 6 AM, Noon, and 6 PM. Once you get the Angelus down, you can add a daily decade of the rosary and eventually a full rosary. The goal is daily communion with God, and this takes time and patience. Start small and build.
3. Write it down and be specific
Vague goals are impossible to fulfill, no matter what area of life they are in. If you want to grow in your spiritual life, take the time to prayerfully consider how you might structure prayer into your day. Make a “rule of life” for yourself and write it down so you know exactly how you are going to pray throughout the day.
The Knights of Columbus have recently come out with a spiritual planner that can help you do this. Vivat Jesus is a pocket-sized planner and prayer book that includes monthly calendars for 2023, space to write out your prayer plan each month, and suggested devotions and practices based on the liturgical calendar. For someone who doesn’t know where to begin, it also includes some suggested prayer plans to get started.
4. Remember that God is at work in your prayer life too
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that everything comes down to us and our efforts. The truth is that your prayer life is not a daily to-do list, it’s a relationship with God, and he is the primary actor in the relationship. St. John reminds us that “we love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). Your prayer throughout the day is a response to God who is constantly with you and loving you.
With that in mind, it becomes easier to face difficulties in your prayer life. Remember that God is drawing close to you, not because of the great efforts you’re making, simply because he loves you. Continue with your daily practices, begin again if necessary, but always trust that God is at work in your life as well.
No matter where you are in your spiritual life, make it your goal to grow closer to God through prayer this year.
The Vivat Jesus Spiritual Planner is a pocket-sized prayer book and calendar for the year 2023. This book is designed to help men develop and maintain a daily prayer routine while also incorporating traditional Catholic prayers and devotions throughout the year for themselves and their families. Vivat Jesus 2023 is available in English and Spanish.