Welcome back to the Lent retreat! I hope you were able to take some free time to spend with God during our time away. My name is Ryian, and I am your host and MC. This is a retreat for those who aren’t able to get away, so throughout Lent, there will be talks, testimonies, and questions to help you reflect. If you prefer to listen instead of read, there is an audio format on the podcast at Ryian’s Coffee Shop!
Today, our guest Hannah Christensen from Lovely Little Lives is going to be sharing her testimony about daily personal prayer. Hannah Christensen is a Catholic wife and mom, sipping cups of coffee between loads of laundry, organizational projects, and picking up children from school. Most days you can find her working from her home office among the lively noise of her three daughters ages 6, 5 and 1. Her favorite days are ones where she is relaxing with her best friend and husband. Welcome, Hannah!
“Hi, I’m Hannah and today I will be sharing with you my personal testimony on daily prayer. I’ve struggled to develop a habit of daily prayer my whole adult life. There are so many excuses to keep me from prayer: I’m too busy, I have to take care of the kids, I’m too tired, I’m too lazy, I’m unmotivated, I’m bored with prayer and feel like God is not speaking to me. I’m in a dry spiritual spell and I can’t feel Him near me so I’m just going to try another day.
The list goes on and I was unmotivated and resistant toward making personal prayer a daily habit. But I’ve kept trying. I’ve kept getting encouragement from my husband to keep trying (because he was doing daily prayer and seeing the benefit), and I’ve kept reading books that inspired me to pray, like Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly.
Technically, I have always prayed. I go to Mass weekly, I pray the rosary pretty regularly and often read through the daily readings or rattle off a bunch of formal prayers but I have never really delved deep into personal private conversation with God, which is a totally different thing. It’s a conversation that involves stillness and listening and quiet and time.
This past fall, I really began to take this idea of making time for personal conversation with God more seriously, and I slowly began to do it more often. But, since I was still struggling to keep that daily prayer appointment by Christmas, I decided to make it one of my main goals for 2019.
In the first week of January, I created a series of check boxes in my journal to check off each day when I’ve spent ten minutes in personal prayer and I haven’t looked back. Through God’s grace, I am finally motivated to make this work. I finally am making it a priority to get up every day and begin with prayer at my kitchen table, watching the sunrise with my cup of coffee in hand before I wake the kids for school.
We are at a stage where the kids normally get up the same time each day so it has been simpler for me to develop this routine. And in full disclosure, there are some days where one of the kids wakes up earlier than usual or where I get sidetracked and skip my daily prayer time but those days are getting fewer and farther between.
And of course, having the right tools and resources to guide my daily prayer has helped immensely. The Holy Spirit has helped me to encounter the books, apps, podcasts, music and the format to gently guide my prayer time in powerful ways.
Now it’s only been a few months, but it’s amazing how God works in that quiet conversation in a way that He doesn’t work anywhere else. I have more peace, more clarity, more contentment, I feel more loved and more worthy, while feeling less restless, less anxious, and less overwhelmed.
And all it really took is for me to make that conscious choice and personal commitment to the daily habit of prayer. I didn’t see results immediately and some days are still really hard and I still can get in an emotional slump or feel like He is far away.
But, what I’m learning is that if I can trust Him and bring everything to him in prayer again and again, day after day, He is always right there with me and I can feel His peace more often in the midst of the crazy. It is an ongoing journey for sure and I know I have plenty more to learn in the area of prayer, but I also am confident that I’ve taken a big step in the right direction.
To be honest, I really was only to finally make a habit of prayer when I made myself schedule the time, when I created space for prayer in my day by waking up 15 minutes earlier than usual and choosing to spend that time with Him. I was only able to intentionally choose how I spent that time by keeping myself accountable. I was only able to keep myself accountable by making checkboxes in my prayer journal to check off daily. I was only able to bring myself to make those checkboxes by asking God to go into my heart and heal those areas that were resistant to Him.
Over the last few months during communion, I’ve been asking Jesus to go in there and heal the emotions, the sins, the hurts or whatever else I am currently struggling with. And I think God has been working through this prayer. Even though I wasn’t always asking directly for help with prayer, He saw my desire for relationship with Him through my feeble attempts to pray and He has given me the grace to pray consistently, just because I indirectly asked.
He wants to give you that grace too. Ask Him to go in there and heal those areas of your heart that are resistant to Him. Ask Him to give you the gift of time with Him. And He will. It might not be overnight; it might take months like it has for me, but if you keep choosing to try you WILL develop the habit of daily conversation with Him. May you have a powerfully prayerful Lenten season.”
Wow. There have been millions of times where I say that I am going to change a habit or how I live my life, but then I haven’t actually made that committed decision in my mind and in my heart in order to put it into action. Thank you so much, Hannah!