Sleep. Oh Sleep. How I long for long, uninterrupted periods of sleep. I never quite feel rested anymore. It doesn’t seem to be a problem for me until sometime after our babies turn one. Interrupted nights is just a normal part of it, but around this time…. 15 – 18 months or so, I begin to really long for better sleep. I’m not completely sure I’d get any better sleep as I tend to wake in the night frequently even without a baby in my bed, but I still long for it.
I suppose that I could stay in bed with him later. That would provide me with more rest, I’m sure. Heck, it would save me multiple trips back to the bedroom to settle him back to sleep every morning, but I just don’t tend to function very well if I don’t get up before the children and take the time to shake the sleep out of my head alone with my coffee and computer. I’d like to say this is my time of deep, long prayer, but it’s not. It used to be, but I somewhere along the way I lost that. Or maybe I just gave it up. I still pray. I still turn to God and talk with him about all the things I will face during the day. I ponder the burdens I carry, the varying things going on with my children, grown or young still. But it is not a sacred time that I run to like it used to be.
I’m not sure when I stopped spending great portions of my quiet mornings in dedicated, deliberate, focused prayer. I think it was early in my last pregnancy, though. Between the exhaustion of the first trimester and the morning sickness, it just dwindled away. I am sad that I didn’t protect that time (and habit.) I do know that without that kind of deep, long prayer I have lost something very precious and I have changed in all areas of my life. My prayer throughout the day has suffered as well.
As I said, it’s not that I don’t pray, but rather that prayer has become drier. Prayer has become more of a chore. Prayer seems less fruitful and more tiring. The whole topic of prayer, one that is super close to my heart (at least in theory) has become, somehow, burdensome (at least in practice.) I still have my devotion to Divine Mercy. I still pray the chaplet daily with my family, and use the prayers of the chaplet throughout the day as I feel inspired to do so. I still practice the devotions that I love and they are still efficacious, but the personal, spontaneous prayer is suffering. My spiritual life overall is suffering because of it.
Just as in human relationships, there must be more than the rote in this relationship with the indwelling Trinity. If I say to my husband and children, “Jesus loves you, and so do I!” as they come and go throughout the day, I am sending them a good message. I am sincerely and truly communicating a great message, a great truth to them. It is right and necessary to do this. It is important for them to hear this from me daily, even frequently throughout the day, but it is not enough on its own. They also need to hear gratitude and praise. The need to know how much I need them and want them. They want and need to be engaged with me in all areas of life. Because they love me as well, they want to know my needs, my sufferings, my sorrows. They want me to bring them my pain so that they can ease my burden. They need to hear my repentance and apologies when I offend them so that they can offer forgiveness and healing. They want to hear about my triumphs, they want to hear me commit myself to them as wife and mother.
So, too, with God. God wants to hear the personal, intimate details from me. He knows them. He knows them better than I do and has a perfect perspective about them. He wants me to share with him the whole of my life. He wants me to come to him in sorrow, love, joy. He wants to give me everything I need, but he wants me to ask! He wants my praises, which are a natural response to his loving generosity with me and a recognition of Who He IS. He wants me to dive in to the great treasury He has given the Church: the Mass, the sacraments, Marian devotions like the rosary and so on. He wants it all. He wants it all for me. To focus solely on one kind of prayer to the neglect of another will leave me unbalanced and unfulfilled. As much benefit as my family receives from hearing the little phrase, “Jesus loves you and so do I!” and as much benefit as I receive from being mindful to say it, more is necessary. I shouldn’t not say it because it is “rote.” It is not just “rote” it is a beautiful way of showing devotion and blessing them. I just need to be sure that’s not the only thing they hear from me.
It is time to take some kind of step to get things more balanced in my spiritual life. Like everything, it takes much grace, some dedication, determination and a focused will. To this end, I will start using my favorite “prayer starter,” Miracle Hour. This little booklet is so very helpful to me. It helps me be sure I spend some time in each type of personal prayer that is necessary. Once I use it for a while, I find that I really don’t need it much. It’s a great tool. One I’m ready to pick up again. So, let us…. or at least me… pray!