ACT before you ASK – Supplication tab

We’re in the ASK part of my prayer journal, we’ve spent time in adoration, contrition/confession, and thanksgiving.  We’ve read our Scriptures, and taken steps to apply what we have learned to our daily lives, and now, we come to the part where we petition God for the things we need.  Supplication is just a fancy word for “ask” or “request”.

This part of prayer is the most familiar to us.  I am guilty of spending more time asking for God to help me, or bless me, or hear me than I am at any of the others put together.   I started working on this prayer journal for this very reason, so I could stay focused and remember to glorify and honor God, remember His blessings to me, and listen to what He has to say to me in prayer.

I start my time of asking, by asking others to pray for me.  I wrote a little bit about that here and here, and there’s more I want to add, but it would be another blog post in itself, so it will have to wait for another day.  One of my favorite prayers for intercession is to St. Michael the Archangel.  I have this prayer written out to help me ask St. Michael for his protection and his prayers.  There are other saints that I know are watching my race and rooting me on as I go.  I am so thankful for their prayers for me.

IMG_0765I divided “Supplication” into 7 sections, one for each day of the week.  On the front of each tab, I have a sticky note with the day’s prayer intentions written on it.  I got this idea from my Catholic Family Prayer book, and added some of my own intentions to their suggestions.  It helps me to have it a little bit different every day, so I don’t feel like I’m in a rut asking for the same things every day.IMG_0766

I have pockets in these sections to hold holy or patron saint cards, handwritten notes, pictures, or scribbles on scrap paper with prayer requests on them.  These are just aids in reminding me who or what I need to pray for, and gives me something to do with my hands while I’m praying.  It really helps me to have a visual prompt, especially when praying for people.

Right now, my tabs include:

Sunday:  Parish and neighborhood, a spirit of zeal, true religion and piety, and priests.  Since I am praying for my own parish today, I specifically name Fr. Andrew and Fr. Joseph, as well as the Holy Father, Pope Francis.

Monday:  Marriages and families, a spirit of meekness and humility, souls in purgatory, and religious communities.

Tuesday:  My own children and grandchildren (by name and special intentions), a spirit of faith, relatives, friends, and benefactors.  I keep a LOT of pictures in this section.  I like to be able to “lay hands” on my family members even though we are far apart.  Note:  This is a great place to retire those Christmas cards with family pictures 🙂

Wednesday:  World leaders, a spirit of charity, the sick, dying, elderly, suffering and poor (and those who care for them).

Thursday:  The persecuted Church, love for the Holy Eucharist, vocations to the priesthood, conversion of unbelievers and needs of missionaries

Friday:  State and local authorities, employers, spirit of self-mortification and self-sacrifice, conversion of sinners

Saturday:  Social media connections, personal ministries, love of chastity and the Blessed Virgin, schools and teachers, children and youth.  (Since my children are all out of school, and grandchildren have not yet entered, I pray for their future teachers and schools as well as our local schools, public and private.  I pray for the witness of Christian teachers on thier students and co-workers, and for the witness of Christian youth on their peers and teachers.

I am in the process of assigning a patron saint for each day.  I don’t have one for each day yet, but St. Vincent dePaul fits appropriately on Wednesday.  It’s a handy prompt for me to remember to pray for our church’s chapter of St. Vincent dePaul and their ministry to those in need.  Similarly, St. Therese has become our family’s patron saint, so it is fitting that I place her prayer card in Monday’s slot.  I became aware of a need in her community in Lisieux, and having her prayer card reminds me to lift those needs up.  It’s the least I can do, since she is praying for me, I can pray for her as well.  I know others will come to me as I continue to ask, but right now, that’s all I’ve come up with.

Do you have a system for organizing your prayer intentions for yourself and others?  I’d love to hear your ideas, and glean from you too.  Share in the comments with us.

Down days

I’m struggling again with insomnia lately…in the middle of the night, when I should be in deep, restful slumber, I am instead full of restless energy, wide awake, mind racing, trying to remember the verses and prayers I had memorized for these times, but to no avail.  Finally, dozing off in the middle of my Hail Mary, only to wake again twenty minutes later and start all over again.

As a result, I have zero energy for the things I really wanted to get done today.  A mid-morning nap only made me more tired, and I have developed a brain fog that is not conducive to anything requiring thought processes more than surface deep.

I will offer this to God, little and worthless as it seems to be by my own standards, since it’s all I have, I pray He will be pleased with the offering, and use it in the ways only He can, hopefully multiplying it and feeding others with it.

When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.

Common Sense – faults


I need this reminder often, how about you?

It’s good to be able to recognize our faults, but if we stop there, we can get stuck in sin, and one of two things can happen, depending on our personality, circumstances, and habits; Either we become despondent and down on ourselves, stuck in pessimism that we know we are at fault, but “this is just the way we are”, and change is impossible, or we become apathetic, tune out the cognitive disonance that happens inside our spirit (which is at war with our flesh), convince our conscience that it doesn’t matter, God understands (stepping back from the bolt of lightening!), and keep on doing what satisfies our natural man instead of addressing and repenting of sin and walking in the Spirit.

There are those who have convinced themselves that it’s not really “them” sinning, but it’s the sin that lives in them.  Their conscience is so seared, that they believe , honestly believe that since they “can’t help themselves”, God’s grace covers them while they continue to choose to disobey God’s Holy Word.  These attitudes keep a person in bondage to their sin, instead of realizing and appropriating REAL grace, they make grace of God completely ineffective.

This ought not to be!  We are a NEW creation, old things are passed away, and all things have become new.  Why do we go dig up that old man and put those grave clothes back on?  ICK.

To grow in self-awareness and strength, (which, in my opinion, we are in the perfect season for doing so!) we must not only “see” our faults, but “see to it” that they are addressed, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, corrected, so that we can live a happy and victorious life in the Spirit.  This reminds me of the story of two dogs fighting, one dog represents our fleshly desires, the other our spiritual desires.  Two dogs fighting against one another, the flesh warring against the spirit.  Which one wins?  The one you feed.  If you are feeding your spirit, you are going to become spiritually strong.  If you make a habit of sinning against God, doing what pleases you instead of what you know pleases God, you will become spiritually weak, and your flesh will destroy your spirit.  Don’t be a hypocrite and believe that you can have both.  Just because you can quote Scripture, or have a compassionate heart for others, or have the ability to discern sin in others, if you are not taking care of your own spirit man, you are in the process of dying spiritually.  God’s grace is ineffective over willfull, continued disobedience.

ACT before you ASK – Application tab

When I am finished with the ACT part of my routine, I open up God’s word and use the Divine Office as a reading guide.  It’s fitting (and satisfies my love for order and balance) that this is at the center of my prayer time.  I’ve focused on the Lord, His glory, His names and His attributes; I have examined my conscience and asked the Lord to search my heart and show me any areas I need to address with Him, and I have spent time remembering His acts of mercy and kindness to me.  Now, I can take time to listen for His response.   I love the cadence of the liturgy of the hours, and the way that OT and NT dovetail together to paint a multi-dimensional picture of the gospel.  While listening to and reading Sacred Scripture is a necessary part of hearing and obeying the will of God, the Apostle James warns us not to be hearers only, but to be “doers” of the Word.  How do we do that?

We “become” doers of the Word by applying Scripture to our daily lives; that is, making our walk match what we say we believe about God’s Word.  This is, in my opinion, what Paul meant when he said “Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:9)  One Bible version translates this as “put into practice”.  I love that phrase, because I know that when I struggle with a new skill, I don’t get better at doing it by just reading about it, or by talking about it, or by assenting to its appropriateness, rightness, or goodness.  No, I have never improved a new skill, or new habit, unless I actively participate in developing it, or in a word, practice.

You want a deeper prayer life?  Keep on doing it.
Need to forgive that hateful person who wounded you so deeply?  Keep on doing it.
Need to be more loving, gentle, faithful, generous, etc.?  Keep on doing it.

Paul is instructing us to practice what we learn, and especially if we are going to be telling others what God’s Word says, it is important that our actions match our words.

While you are reading the Scriptures, ask questions, and listen for the answers in your spirit.  This is what I use the “Apply” tab for, peeps.  This is where I record the things I hear whispered in my Spirit while reading or hearing His word.  This is where I make the promises, warnings, and commands of God part of my daily walk.  There are six pages in this section, I find it helpful to break it down in simple steps, and to have a place ready for recording.  Since this is a brand new habit for me, meaning, I am at the very cusp of learning it and incorporating it, my pages are blank, but not for long.

IMG_0758Is there something worthy of meditating on?
Write it down, think on these things!
Is there a promise to claim?
Write it down, thank God for it and claim it!
Is there a warning to heed?
Write it down, BEWARE!  This is a heads up!
Is there a command to obey?
Write it down!  Don’t delay, obey!
Is there a bad habit or negative trait to put off or a healthy one to adopt ?
Write it down!  Put off – put on…just do it!
Is there a good example to follow or a bad example to avoid?
Write it down! Imitate the good and shun the bad.
(I love words, and am especially tickled at how this looks on paper, “imitate-shun” sounds a whole lot like imitation, doesn’t it?

When I am listening for God’s voice, I might have some praise and worship music still playing, or maybe I will be listening to the Divine Office podcast, or reading the Daily Readings quietly.  Whatever it is, I try to listen to what the Lord is saying to my spirit.  Sometimes a word or phrase will stand out, sometimes I will be compelled to DO something, or I will be burdened to pray for someone; sometimes I will hear just the words being read or spoken, and nothing really stands out.

I find the latter to be the case often.  It used to really bother me, I would wonder “why won’t God speak to me?  Is there sin that is separating me from Him?  Are my prayers being hindered?”  I wasted so much time worrying and fretting over just a simple lapse in conversation.    Now when this happens, you know what I do?  I thank Him for the silence.  It’s in these times that I believe He is content just to BE with me.  Really, do you have a friend that you love to talk with?  Do you ever have lapses in conversation?  Of course!  I love the kind of friends that are happy to just hang out with me, even when I don’t have profound things to say.  If we have a friend in Jesus (and when I say “if” I really mean “since”), I believe we have these moments, these seasons even, where God is quiet, and desires us to be quiet as well.   So now, I thank Him for His presence, and for His love, and if I need to, I will flip back to my Adoration or Thanksgiving tab and review ALL the things I have to be thankful for.  I will remember His character, His attributes, and His forgiveness.  I will obey what I heard Him say and I will be still and KNOW that He is God, I will praise Him because He is with me, He loves me and He has good things planned for me.

 ACT before you ASK
Prayer of Consecration

Balm in Secret Prayer

I found this precious treasure this morning while surfing for hymn lyrics.  How I would love to sit down with Fanny Crosby and sing, and pray, and discuss her lyrics.  What a blessed soul!

Balm in Secret Prayer by Fanny Crosby (1900)

Pray on, pray on, O trusting heart,
Let not thy courage fail;
But take thy Savior at His word,
And know thou shalt prevail.

Tho’ the cross is hard to bear,
There is balm in secret prayer;
Go and tell thy sorrows there,
And leave it all with Jesus.

What tho’ thy prayers thro’ many tears
May reach His throne on high;
He knows the anguish of thy heart,
And will not pass thee by.

Perhaps in some desponding hour,
When hope has well nigh past,
The light will burst upon thy soul,
And joy be thine at last.

Pray on, pray on, O weary not,
Whate’er thy trial be;
But lean thy faith on Him Who said,
“It shall be well with thee.”

Forty Ideas to Incorporate or Give Up this Lent

Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.  Today we remember our station, that we are dust, and one day will return to dust.  It’s a time of personal reflection on the passion of Christ, and the imitation of Him.  It’s also a time of intentional resolve to follow the exhortation of Philippians 2, to work out our salvation with fear and trembling.  The sacrifices we make should be from a heart of obedience, and not for outward show.  In this, we draw near to the heart of God, as obedient children, and have the opportunity to participate in His suffering and death.  The practical application of this participation is denying ourselves, taking up our cross and following Him. We give up things, attitudes, or bad habits that may have taken a place in our hearts that is reserved only for the Lord.  We put these things aside, and work on developing good habits while we nourish our souls.

If you don’t know what to give up for Lent, I’ve compiled a list of 40 ideas for you to choose from:  If you’e already made your Lenten sacrifice, there’s an idea for each day of Lent for a little extra sacrifice to keep you extra focused.

I’m always on the lookout for new ideas, and would love to hear yours.  Feel free to share your Lenten inspirations with me in the comments.

  1. Spend some time developing your prayer life this Lent.  I’m still adding to and organizing my own prayer journal, and working on making better habits.
  2. Give up social media.  So much time is wasted here.  I’ve actually fasted completely in the past.  This year, I’ll be partially fasting, because of work that requires me to be on social media.  My goal is balance, my plan is to abstain from sun up to sun down, then prioritize the time acquired between work, familly, and ministry. I hope to be able to continue this even after Lent is over.
  3. Television.  Turn. It. Off.  Seriously!  We actually are planning to disconnect cable altogether as soon as this billing cycle ends.  What a waste of money and resources.  It’s just a vast wasteland of mind rot.
  4. Replace TV time with reading a good book.
  5. Read Story of A Soul, or if you prefer, listen to it online.
  6. Give up some sleep.  Wake up an hour earlier than usual, or stay up an extra hour before going to sleep.
  7. Replace sleep time with prayer and/or contemplation.
  8. Learn and pray the Divine Office.  It’s online here.
  9. Give up your telephone.  Turn it off for an hour, or an afternoon, or all day.  Let your voicemail pick up important calls and you can return them later.
  10. Make and send a handwritten greeting card or letter.  Don’t you love to get REAL mail?  Give, and you will receive.
  11. Give up laziness.  When you feel like sitting and relaxing, get up and DO something.  Combat laziness with activity…go for a walk, exercise, garden….
  12. Offer up your hobbies.  We enjoy them, but sometimes they take more time than they should, time away from necessary things, even.
  13. Give up worrying and fretting.  Aint’ nobody got time for that!  Replace it with thanksgiving, and allow His peace to fill your soul.
  14. Memorize Philippians 4:6,7
  15. Pray the Rosary.  If you are a baby Catholic (like me) or are just learning the Rosary, it is helpful to listen and pray along with one of the many youtube videos available.  Check it out, and pick your favorite.
  16. Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet.  I prefer to sing it.  This is my favorite version right now.
  17. Give up your pride.
  18. Pray the Litany of Humility
  19. Turn off your electricity for a day and meditate on Jesus being the Light of the World.
  20. Pray for those who do not have electricity for refrigeration, cooking, heating/cooling, and etc.
  21. Give up your favorite Alcoholic drink.
  22. Replace your usual alcohol beverage with water while you meditate Jesus’ first miracle.
  23. Give up caffeine (!)  (I have to admit this one is a huge sacrifice for me, I really, really love and appreciate my morning coffee.  If you can’t give it up completely, what about cutting back and limiting yourself to just one cup instead of half a pot?)
  24. Cut out all sugar and carbs and replace them with healthy alternatives.
  25. Give up one meal.  Offer it up and replace the time with a Rosary for world hunger.
  26. Give up meat.  Try some new meatless meals on another day besides the usual Friday fast.
  27. The ever popular “sweets”.  Give up candy, sodas, desserts, etc.
  28. Give up that second helping.  That dinner was good, and you could easily polish off another plate of it?  Resist.  Offer it up.
  29. Give up salt. Experience the absence of salt while you do a topical study on all the times salt is mentioned in the Bible.  You won’t forget it.
  30. Visit a shut-in
  31. Read Thomas A’Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ 
  32. Did you know Thomas A’Kempis has another beautiful work?  I’m reading The Imitation of Mary this Lent, after finding it in our church’s bookstore.  So far, I don’t see a free version online, but Amazon has them if your church bookstore doesn’t.
  33. Give up your inclination to anger.  When you feel it rising, offer it up, and and look for an opportunity to exercise your compassion.
  34. Memorize Colossians 3:8-13
  35. Give up grumbling and complaining, replace it with thanksgiving.  This requires you to think before you speak, a worthy habit to develop!
  36. Memorize Philippians 2:12-16
  37. Give up shopping for 40 days.  Learn to be content and make do with what’s on hand.
  38. Memorize Hebrews 13:1-6
  39. Give up procrastinating.  Whatever it is you’re putting off, do it, so you can get it done!  You’re not getting any younger.
  40. Memorize Ephesians 5:14-17 — in fact, if you’ve got serious penance in mind, memorize the whole chapter.  It is RICH, isn’t it?

A Prayer For Today

morning by morning

This is the beginning of a new day.
God has given me this day to use as I will.
I can waste it–or use it for good, but what I do today is important,
because I am exchanging a day of my life for it.

When tomorrow comes, this day will be gone forever, leaving in its place something I have traded for it.
I want it to be a gain, and not a loss, and not evil;
success, and not failure, in order that I shall not regret the price I have paid for it.

p90 – Catholic Family Prayer Book
Our Sunday Visitor Publishing Division,
Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.
Huntington, Indiana 46750