We are circled around the altar at home as my parents, sister, grandparents, uncle, and me recite, "Our Father who art in Heaven....", then ten, "Hail Mary full of grace...", and finally, "Glory be to the Father..." at the end of each decade. As we progress through the rosary, my grandmother picks up the pace, my dad begins nodding off, my sister and I continue to silently bicker beneath our breaths, and everyone else slowly transforms into robots as they mechanically repeat each word of these traditional prayers. We prayed the rosary every night when I was a child, and every night I complained and struggled through it. I often thought, "Is this what prayer is? I hate sitting here saying the same things over and over again! Why can't we do something else...anything else!"
Many children, teens, and adults find it difficult to be still during prayer, and as a result, they frequently give up before they even had a chance to start. Fortunately for you, I have been there! I was a super hyper and active child back then, and I am a super hyper and active adult now. How can we active people integrate prayer in our lives? Are there different ways to talk to God that doesn't require that we be stationary?
Yes!! God knows our hearts. He knows our limitations as well as our strengths, and He reaches out to each of us in a way that we can understand. In His great wisdom, He gives us a myriad of ways to connect with Him and grow in holiness. Here are but a few examples of how we can spend time with God while still remaining active:
1) Listen to Catholic podcasts while running, walking, driving, or doing chores
These podcasts come in many forms: homilies given by inspiring priests, reflections on bible readings, meditations like the rosary and divine mercy chaplet, talks given by Catholic speakers regarding the spiritual life, and more. Podcasts such as these can be effective ways to hear God's voice. They can be a source of spiritual and moral edification, healing, hope, and love. Podcasts are perfect for the active Christian, because it is portable! Just put you ear buds in and allow God's voice to come through during your run or even while you're gardening. It's amazing just how much you'll grow in holiness by tuning in!
-Laudate App: Go to their "Daily Readings" tab and then click on "All podcasts"
-The Catholic Cafe
2) Rosary walks and Soul Core
After some reflection, I realized that the reason why I disliked the rosary as a child was because I didn't understand what it was and why we were praying it. The rosary is a beautiful way to meditate and reflect on the life of Christ and His holy Mother. Have you ever looked through one of your photo albums or the pictures you have posted in social media to remember a great time in your life or relive moments that had touched you dearly? This is what the rosary is! Each decade is dedicated to remembering, meditating on, and reliving a moment in the life of Christ like His agony in the garden found in the sorrowful mysteries or His transfiguration found in the luminous mysteries. Whether going on a rosary walk or praying with Soul Core, imagine yourself in each of these moments in Christ's life and ponder the following questions, "How does this moment affect me today? What can I learn from it? What are my feelings or reactions to it?" Learning how to pray the rosary with the intention of reflecting and meditating on the life of Christ will help you to come to know Him better, and more importantly, help you fall deeper in love with Him!
Rosary walks and Soul Core are different exercises that incorporate the rosary. A rosary walk is exactly that- praying the rosary while taking a brisk walk outside. Soul Core is a program that combines the rosary with aerobic exercises. It coordinates body movements and postures with our traditional prayers. What's great about Soul Core is that it can help you draw closer to God AND help you develop abs of steel! Who doesn't like a two for one deal?
At this point, you may ask, "But Carrell, what if I don't have any fancy technology like an iPhone to listen to podcasts or have the time to take a walk long enough to pray the whole rosary? How about me? You know, the always busy, super mom/dad or the always-on-the-go student/business entrepreneur/workaholic?"
Prayer is spending time with God- being with Him, listening to Him, talking to Him, walking with Him, and yes, even being at work with Him. Think of prayer as natural as taking a breath, because God is truly present everywhere, in every one, and at every moment in time. While you are brushing your teeth, for example, ask God to help make you clean. When you are picking up your child from school, thank God for always being there to pick you up whenever you need Him or need a ride to Heaven! When one of your co-workers or clients are frustrating you, call to mind the patience, love and mercy God has for you and try to emulate Him. Each moment, no matter how busy you are can be an opportunity to call to mind our loving Father who wants to be with you in the here and now.
These methods of praying are not to replace spending undivided time with God in silence, contemplation, adoration, and at the Holy Mass. They are merely helpful ways that you can begin to incorporate God in all that you do whether at rest or...not. ;-)