“Fix your inward gaze upon Him amidst your occupations.”
Leave it to Carmelite nuns (the combat Marines of prayer!) to come up with helpful ways to kick-start prayer in your daily routine. Along with their practical (and creative) tips, you will also want to check out the wide assortment of Prayer Apps for your mobile device that we’ve listed as being worthy of your consideration. Many are free and utilize some of the tips below like setting gentle alarms for prayer times.
Here’s the valuable list from the Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles:
Ten Practical Prayer Tips from the Carmelite Sisters
- Take a line from the liturgy of the day and repeat it during the day—a new line every day. The responsorial psalm and the Gospel Acclamation theme are good ones to use.
- Let a spiritual thought from a hymn or a book or Mass be as background music in your mind during the day.
- Take a holy card (or picture) of Christ and place it where you can see it so that you may think of Him.
- Make a spiritual communion every hour. I set the stop watch I use.
- Fix your inward gaze upon Him amidst your occupations.
- Find a “trigger moment,” such as putting your keys on the desk; turning off the computer, or laying out clothes for the next day that can serve as a reminder to take a moment for short prayer.
- Instead of a coffee break, take a short prayer break. In the mid-morning or mid-afternoon, get up and move into a different space and think of God.
- I think of God every time I look at a watch or clock.
- I sing hymns in my heart during the day.
- Make Spiritual aspirations during the day. (See below)
What are Spiritual Aspirations? (From the spiritual works of St. Francis de Sales)
“My child, aspire continually to God, by brief, ardent upliftings of heart; praise God, invoke His aid, cast yourself in spirit at the Foot of His Cross, adore His Goodness, offer your whole soul a thousand times a day to Him, fix your inward gaze upon Him, stretch out your hands to be led by Him, as a little child to its father, clasp Him to your breast as a fragrant bouquet.
In short, enkindle by every possible action your love for God, your tender, passionate desire for the Heavenly Bridegroom of souls. Such is prayer of aspiration, as it was so earnestly inculcated by Saint Augustine; and be sure, my child, that if you seek such nearness and intimacy with God your whole soul will imbibe the perfume of His Perfections.
Neither is this a difficult practice—it may be interwoven with all our duties and occupations, without hindering any; for neither the spiritual retreat of which I have spoken, nor these inward upliftings of the heart, cause more than a very brief distraction, which, so far from being any hindrance, will rather promote whatever you are doing. The practice of these short aspirations can supply all our deficiencies, but without a true contemplative life cannot be lived, and the active life will be but imperfect.” (St. Francis de Sales)