“The measure of our prayer life is not the feeling we have when we pray, but the way we live our lives.”
My pastor used to lead our youth group in prayer in front of the Blessed Sacrament, having us repeat after him: “Jesus, I love you. Help me to love you more.”
Help me to love you more. It’s a prayer I continue to pray.
But what does that mean? How will we know when we are loving Him more? It won’t necessarily translate to a certain feeling when we pray. It probably won’t be a glow in our heart or feeling as we walk around, our mind constantly on Jesus. It might not even mean prayer is easier.
Rather, it’ll mean we begin growing in virtue. It will mean we begin living differently – because we want to live differently. Because it’s better to live differently.
A friend was relating this to me the other day. She has begun to stop into the church during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every day, and her prayer to Jesus is simply, “Help me to love you.” And what has she noticed? She has more patience with her grandchildren.
Loving Jesus more means more patience with our children, spouse, or coworkers. It means more perseverance in the monotonous or small tasks of our lives. It means being able to smile at someone even when we’d rather scowl. It means taking the next step in a project when we don’t feel like it. It means not just picking up our cross, but loving it.
Loving Jesus more is not a feeling, but a doing. If we ask him to help us love Him more, that will translate into the strength to live the Christian life: to love Him in our neighbors and to enter more deeply into prayer.
At times we have the warm glow of consolation in our prayer life, but other times we won’t feel anything. The measure of our prayer life is not the feeling we have when we pray, but the way we live our lives.
If we don’t pray daily, we won’t have the strength to accomplish our daily work virtuously or love our neighbor. We can’t live the Christian life without an active relationship with Him. Jesus prayed … so why do we think we don’t need to? Or maybe we know we need to, but do we actually do it?
Saint Teresa of Avila likened the Christian without a prayer life to a crippled or paralyzed body. The body has hands and feet but cannot use them. We must speak to God daily. We can do this throughout the day, with aspirations or short prayers repeated as we work. The Jesus prayer is a tried and true way to keep your mind close to God while you go about your day.
It’s also important, however, to set aside time specifically for prayer. While we should pray while we work and offer our work as a prayer, we also have to have specific times where our minds and hearts are least trying to focus solely on Him. It might not be easy, especially if our days are full of taking care of a family or long hours at work. But it’s necessary.
And if we find ourselves caught in a routine of rote prayers, we can heed the advice of St. Josemaria: “To avoid routine in your vocal prayers try to say them with the same ardour with which a person who has just fallen in love speaks… and as if it were the last chance you had to approach Our Lord” (The Forge, 432).
We must be a people whose lives show we are in love with our Lord. So, we repeatedly ask Him, “Help me to love you more.” It’s a prayer He will answer – perhaps not in the glowing consolation of a warm feeling, but with the strength to live the Christian life.
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