A few years ago I wrote here about my yearly Lenten sacrifice of praying the morning and evening prayers in the Divine Office. This is really the first year that I’m realizing the benefit to it, which is actually pretty surprising to me.
I realized that the times I pray the morning and evening prayer during Lent are the only times I pray during the day. And it’s so crazy, because I think about God a lot, and I mistake that for real prayer.
One of the best things about this particular type of prayer is that it’s divided up into recitation of Psalms, then a reading from one of the Epistles, then the praying of either the Canticle of Zechariah or the Canticle of Mary (depending on the time of day), followed up by intercessions and an Our Father and then a final blessing. My favorite part is praying the Psalms, because as ancient as they are, they still echo those same human feelings of inadequacy, desire to trust, confusion, adoration, and praise that most people still experience today when it comes to God.
But if I didn’t say these prayers and go through the process of this twice a day, I’d never do it. And it’s not like I’m giving up other prayer time for this prayer time. It’s like…it’s like watching TV and thinking you’re there. Thinking about going to a restaurant and not going, yet feeling like you did, but without the fullness of eating there.
I do that in my life a lot, too. I think all these wonderful things, and leave them as thoughts, just pretending that they’re my reality. It’s scary how easily that can happen!
All that said, I didn’t say my morning prayer today. I usually say it when I put my son down for his nap, but I was just exhausted – the same kind that makes you feel like a worn-out dishrag. And so I skipped it. I felt badly about it and promised to pray it later (which I didn’t), and continued on with my day once my son woke up. And we had a good afternoon: we visited a friend, got take out for dinner, and got to spend some time together as a family before bedtime.
And I learned something about God’s grace, that His good will toward me has very little to do with me at all. If He desires to give me a good day, it’s because He wants to give me a gift, not because I prayed a certain set of prayers or not. But I know that if I do not pray, I have an emptiness inside – I feel like a ship at sea with no lighthouse to guide it.
I know it’ll be hard for me to keep my prayer up after Easter comes, but I hope that with His grace, it’ll be just a little easier than it has been in previous years, so I’ll be able to stick with it much longer. 🙂