Advent is the season in which we wait for the coming of our Lord. We begin preparing a place in our hearts, just as Mary and Joseph did with the manger, where the newborn Christ-child will rest. There are many ways that we can help our family prepare, but one of the most powerful and important ways to prepare for the coming of our Savior is through prayer.
Prayer is one of the easiest, and most difficult, things we can do throughout our day. Sometimes prayer comes easy; other times we struggle with the words we wish to say to God. When prayer is a struggle it’s easy to fall away from the prayer life that keeps us grounded and keeps us close to God. Advent is the perfect time to begin anew and reconnect to God through prayer.
One of the beautiful things about Advent is that each week there is theme we can focus on for prayer- hope, faith, joy, and peace. When we have something in particular to focus on it seems easier to stay in prayer than if we struggle with the words we wish to speak. This Advent I plan to focus my personal prayers strictly on the main Advent theme for the week.
Week one: I will focus my prayers on hope. They may be my personal hopes or they may be focused on the hope I have for my salvation in Christ. “For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 (Imagine the hope God has for us!)
Week two: I will focus on an increase in faith and in thanksgiving for my beautiful Catholic faith that is steeped in Christ’s love. “But Jesus turning and seeing her said, “Daughter, take courage; your faith has made you well.” At once the woman was made well.” Matt 9:22 (Imagine how faith can heal us!)
Week three: I will focus on joy… oh there is so much to be joyful about! I will pray to have a joyful heart and soul in every situation I encounter. “You will make known to me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; In Your right hand there are pleasures forever.” Psalm 16:11 (Imagine the joy that will fill our hearts when we put God there first!)
Week four: I will focus my prayers on peace– peace within my family, peace for my friends and those that I love, and peace for the world. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (Imagine the peace we will have when we rest in the Lord!)
Advent provides us the perfect time frame to begin to make a habit of concentrated prayer. They used to say that it takes 21 days to form a habit. However, recent studies tell us that really it takes 3 times as long to form a habit… 66 days! But isn’t Advent only 4 weeks? Yes, it is, but here is the good news for those who wish to begin a prayer habit- it is best to pray more than one time a day, in fact, it’s best to pray as often as possible! That means that throughout Advent (which is really 25 days this year) if you prayed 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night) you would have deliberately prayed 75 times! I think you can definitely make prayer a habit if you begin to focus your prayer life in this manner!
On New Year’s Day traditionally people make resolutions to help them in the upcoming year. Advent is the start of the new liturgical year in the Catholic faith. Will you make a resolution to pray more often? What do you have to lose? Imagine all that you have to gain!
What are you waiting for?