When I chose to try out this life what attracted me most was the prayer life of the brothers and brotherhood - the life in common. I wanted a life that would both provide a support for my prayer and yet not leave me on my own. I already prayed a lot - it was a big emphasis in the charismatic prayer meeting I attended. I wanted something more and felt a draw to that. Somehow along the way I forgot that priority. Studies, student life, ministerial demands, meetings, and the distractions of TV and the internet meant that prayer often took a back seat. Now I am trying to find my way back.
It isn't easy.
There are always distractions and the problem is not with things but with me. Each of us has within us, because we are fallen, the illusion that we are the centre of everything and that everyone else ought to orbit around us. This is not a conscious idea for most of us otherwise we'd all be megalomaniacs. It's there all the same and becomes visible in our sins and our sinful attitudes, in our tendency to always put our own interests first. The only way to peace is to acknowledge that the only centre of everything is God. I cannot be God. We cannot be God. Only God can be God. God must take central place in our lives if they are to be at peace.
Somehow I let prayer slide into the background because I wanted to be the centre instead of God. Not that I never prayed but I never prayed as regularly as I could. There was always something that would interfere. What I have discovered is that it cannot be packed it at the last moment. It has to be planned and given priority. I have to intentionally live with as the centre if I wish to live a prayerful and peaceful life.
Needless to say it is not done overnight but re-establishing habits that will last takes not just time but commitment. It takes a continual returning to the source, a starting over each day. It means that as long as one is seeking one will eventually find.
Therefore I have discovered these basics:
Regularity: same place, same time and preferably early rather than late.
Spiritual Reading: dump the novels and feed your imagination with sacred images not with junk. Remember: 'Junk in junk out'.
Avoidance of the unnecessary and not just the sinful: it's not enough merely to seek to avoid evil one must seek good and do good. So much time is wasted on what is not important and not urgent. Prayer is important.
Perseverance: don't give up. Start again. If you fail, start again.
Make the Sacramental connection: nothing is possible without the grace of God. All good comes from Him. Draw on Him for support. Focus on attending Mass and draw on Christ truly present - worship Him! Use the Sacrament of Reconciliation for healing and help.
An Introduction to the Devout Life
The Practice of the Presence of God
Though I might point out that illustration given at the front of the pdf above is not of Brother Lawrence but of a Franciscan. Lawrence was a Carmelite.