Prayer can be mysterious—in particular, other people’s prayer can be mysterious. In our November issue, we went ahead and asked six brave souls to reveal the benefits they reap and the struggles they have when they pray (“Private practices: The real prayer lives of Catholics,” pages 12-17).
Here are a few additional Catholics who were willing to give us a glimpse into their day-to-day prayer lives:
Mark and Blanca Dilworth
37/40; Goshen, Indiana
Parish: St. John the Evangelist
Occupation: HR manager and stay-at-home mom
Between parenting, work, kids’ activities, and time with family and friends, Mark and Blanca Dilworth keep a full schedule. Still, they make prayer a priority—even though it’s not always quiet, exclusive prayer time.
The times where prayer obviously happens are before meals and at bedtime for their children, ages 7, 9, and 11. “Sometimes we pray the rosary or have each child list people they want to pray for, say what they are thankful for, or read the lives of the saints,” says Mark. “It just depends on the night.”
They also sneak prayer in where they can. In their home they have Rublev’s Trinity icon displayed as well as icons of Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Patrick, and St. Andrew–their children’s name saints. “The icons are constant reminders of God’s presence,” says Mark. “Throughout the day we glance at them, and in doing so we direct our gaze to God.”
The many concerns of parenting—their children’s health, wellbeing, and schooling, for instance—have become a focus of their prayer life. “For me, that means praying for patience and the grace to be a good mother,” says Blanca, who, on any given day, might meditate on a gospel story, a psalm, or one of the lives of the saints as she goes about her tasks. Over the years, she has also prayed the liturgy of the hours and finds its rhythm a reminder of God’s presence.
“Blanca has a deep interior life, and she is also very practical in that she sees holiness to be lived out in our daily activities and helping those whose lives cross our paths,” says Mark.
One of Blanca’s favorite saints is St. Francis, and she emphasizes that Franciscan spirituality in family life. “We open our home for others. We try to teach the children care for the poor, and elderly; we try to teach them care for creation, to live simply,” says Blanca. “Francis helps make the Gospel come alive.”
Mark’s prayer life was influenced by the three years he spent working with the Missionaries of Charity in New York. “Mark has a great desire for the gospel call for the poor and the church’s social teaching,” says Blanca. She sees that in the way he reads the meditations of Jean Vanier, Dorothy Day, Mother Teresa, and Oscar Romero, and brings them into his own personal prayer, often at night, when the house is quiet.
As a human resources manager for an RV manufacturer with more than 900 employees, Mark doesn’t leave his prayer life at home when he leaves for work. “I pray for the employees at my company and its leaders,” he says. “I also pray for the grace to serve and lead others.”
While their prayer life influences their marriage, their marriage influences their prayer life, as well. “We don’t pray together—just the two of us—as much as we did before we became parents,” says Mark. They sometimes attend daily Mass together when the children are in school. “But we have a responsibility to pray for each other,” says Mark. “Also, it has also widened the circle of family we pray for.”
“If we truly want to follow Jesus, prayer must be central to our life,” says Blanca.
“The busyness of work and family life can sometimes seem to preclude vibrant prayer life,” says Mark, “but I’ve learned that we can pray always, especially through our day-to-day tasks.”
73; Mishawaka, Indiana
Parish: Queen of Peace
What does a typical day look like for you in your prayer life?
I start with the morning offering, which offers every aspect of my day as a prayer. I then ask the Holy Spirit to guide my day according to His will and to give me the graces to do His will. During the day I have usually scheduled tasks and also those unexpected ones the Lord gives me to do.
What are your favorite places to pray?
I pray in church if I am there and in the silence of my room when I go to bed or when I wake up at night. I feel that sometimes the Lord wakes me up to pray for something during the night. I pray and praise God every time I look out the kitchen window while I am doing dishes. I praise God for the beauty of nature and the singing of the birds in our backyard or on the bird feeder outside the window.
What and whom do you pray for?
My family is at the top of my list—my husband and children and grandchildren. I also pray for those intentions that come through on our parish prayer line, for the problems in the world, for the poor souls, for my friends and fellow parishioners. I always pray for peace, the church, our Holy Father, our pastor, and all those who work to make the parish run so well.
What are some other prayer practices you use?
I pray before meals, pray the rosary, and go to adoration. I pray when I drive. I often pray for the intercession of those who have gone before me who I know are saints in heaven.
How often do you try new ways of praying?
In our prayer group we do try to discover new ways to pray by using various books. Mostly I find that just meeting God where I am is the best.
This is a web-only sidebar that accompanies “Private practices: The real prayer lives of Catholics” in the November 2013 issue of U.S. Catholic (Vol. 78, No. 11, pages 12-17).