Developing the habit of mental prayer (Christian meditation) is vital to Catholic or Christian spirituality, but it is also a challenging practice in our fast-paced, modern lives. I personally can say that I have struggled in developing the habit myself. Aside from setting aside the time for mental prayer, there is also the effort it takes for us to push distractions from our mind in the midst of it. We are not alone — most of the great saints of the Church attest to the challenging “work” of mental prayer. We are also not without resources. Aside from the many saints and Doctors of the Church who have taught us about mental prayer, there are many good current formulas and guides to help us develop a rich life of quiet meditation with our Lord. I recently found a wonderfully helpful guide that I am so happy to share: The Practice of Mental Prayer.
In slowly growing my prayer relationship with the Lord I draw from a frequent inspiration source — my young children. One of the blessings of motherhood is that you are constantly reminded to remain as a little child before God, never losing the wonder of his love. It’s St. Therese’s “little way,” and Jesus taught us that this spirit of littleness inherits the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 19:14). Kids keep things simple, and often, simply profound. They use simple symbols (words and gestures); but we should never mistake simplicity for simplistic. When simple symbols are cultivated they can contain deep meaning for our prayer lives, and I think this is a helpful guide for us adults as we grow our lives of prayer.