OK, the first week was easy. After that, as I expected, it got a lot harder. I did better on some parts of my new prayer schedule than others, so let’s take them one at a time:
Morning Prayer. My greatest success. Thirty-one days in and I haven’t missed a single morning. During the first two weeks in particular, I was very good about getting up and praying right away. After that, I got a bit lazy—slept in, went for the coffee first—but I made sure I got the prayer book out by mid-morning at the latest. In all the time I’ve been trying to maintain a daily prayer schedule, this is the first month I’ve prayed at least once each day without fail. A big step forward.
Evening Prayer. The trick here was to pray right after Anna went to sleep. If I put it off, I was more likely to get tired and be tempted to skip. I only gave into the temptation a few times, so my goal for February is to not miss any.
The Angelus. I managed two of these a day without fail. Sticking to Morning and Evening Prayer helped, and on the few days I skipped the Evening Office, I prayed an Evening Angelus and The Lord’s Prayer. Midday, however, was tricky. It’s so easy to forget to stop and pray in the middle of a busy schedule. I think I remembered about half of the time. Something to improve next month.
The Rosary. As a new discipline, I knew this would be the most difficult to keep up, and for the first month I’ve done fairly well. Again, like the midday Angelus, I remembered to pray the rosary about half the time—either during the day or after Evening Prayer. More room for improvement as Lent draws closer.
And the result in my day to day life? Again, it’s been hard work. I knew my success the first week would be short-lived and I would revert to old, bad habits. But the regular rhythm of prayer has helped me get back on track faster. To think before I speak, to control my tongue when I do speak, to try to be more patient, more considerate, and more compassionate.
It’s an old cliché that prayers changes us, not God, but like all clichés it’s true. Prayer is how God slowly transforms us into his image. It works, and I would recommend it to anyone who desires a closer walk with God with one caveat. It has taken me years to work up to the point where I can attempt the hour or so over the course of each day that the above commitment entails. Start small—five or ten minutes at the most with a few familiar prayers. Don’t take on to much at once. You’ll set yourself up for failure and discouragement.