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Praying Deeply While Having Young Children

alec vanderboom

One of the difficulties of being a Lay Carmelite, is that our prayer routine is pretty strict. We're supposed to pray 1/2 an hour every day, plus pray the Daily Office twice a day and attend a Carmelite meeting once a month. It's awesome to have that intense external structure sometimes. As a new mother, however, that same structure can feel impossible. Pregnancy, birth, and night time nursing sessions all play havoc with my daily prayer schedule.

As a contemplative, I need time to pray. I need that time just as surely as I need extra glasses of water while I breastfeed or extra time for naps while I care for a newborn. I telling myself it's okay to pass off the baby to my husband and say "I need time to pray."

I have to hold my prayer sessions lightly right now. It's easy to get interrupted by the newborn and the two year old. It helps to think of Jesus as a friend. A real life friend in my kitchen isn't going to be upset that I take a moment to get my early-rising daughter breakfast. We can still resume our conversation after I finish my task.

At the same time, if I get interrupted often from my children in the morning, I need to make it okay to ask for my husband's help to get more time to pray alone in the evening.

Prayer is as essential as water. "I thirst for you as a deer seeks running water" it says in the Psalms.

A woman at Swim Practice was freaked out to discover that I was a Carmelite "on top of everything else." I told her jokingly, "No, no. It's the opposite way. I'm able to do everything else because I'm a Carmelite."

I don't know how to keep on top of my required prayer scheduled right now--in the middle of having a newborn, planning moving, writing a book, and teaching homeschooling. I only know that I've stumbled on something good with a Carmelite prayer life and I'll try my best not to lose it during the tumble of daily life.