16 January 2009

Rise, you slug, to watch and pray

There's a reason I haven't written about this before. I have a guilty conscience. Even when I'm in a good phase, I know I'm going to slack off again eventually, so I hate to go on record with all this talk about how important it is to pray and how I actually do have time for it. So let me just say, I'm a waste of humanity and I don't pray like I should, even when I'm doing a decent job by my own laughable standards.

The way this post would be expected to go is, "Golly, I'm so busy! These dear little people just always need me! I don't have time to myself!" And that is the truth, but not the whole truth.

I think that a while back I said something about time for prayer and devotion not occurring naturally in my day. The key word there is naturally. I am usually awakened by a kid in the morning, I no longer have a naptime when everybody is down, and there is always one young enough to need fairly close supervision even when the baby is napping. So from baby up to baby down, I cannot go into my room and close the door.

So that leaves from baby down to baby up, aka the time I look forward to all day. The time I don't want to give up. The time I want to SLEEP! The time I want to spend with my beloved husband whom I adore. The time I want to read a book and watch a movie and draft some posts. The time I want to slouch and play, not the other thing.

Well. If it doesn't come naturally, I have to make it or take it. Here's a breakdown.

What you should be doing you lazy slob: Get out of bed 20 minutes early, or even better, 30*. Have you ever regretted it, self? It has an added bonus of getting me up and productive in general.

Shake! SHAKE!

But when I botch that, the options are as follows:

--If Dad has an evening meeting, attend to personal prayer and devotion as soon as kids are in bed. Do not go downstairs. Do not read one chapter first. This isn't a good option because if I've already put it off all day, what's another half hour? And then another? Bad discipline, at least for me. There was a great Luther meditation on this in TDP a week or so back.

--If the evening won't be free and the kids can eat semi-unattended, attend to personal prayer and devotion in the next room while they eat lunch. This requires my attention to be more divided, so I don't like it much either.

--If I've got a nurser in the house, I can attend to prayer and devotion during a session that I can usually count on to be long and quiet, such as early morning or bedtime. I don't like multitasking personal piety, but nursing is about as innocuous an additional task as you can ask for, and it's better than skipping it altogether. And then again, these times are exceptionally peaceful and unhurried, and sleepy babies love it when you aren't in a rush to put them down.

--Sneak upstairs when Dad is home. They've never missed me in any catastrophic way.

--If it isn't working out, formally ask Dad to go on duty for 20-30 minutes. I don't like to do this. I have a hangup about asking Dad to go on duty since I feel like it's really my job. I know I should have gotten out of bed and he's taking the fall for it if I didn't.

--And I'm not allowed to read anything in a day until I've read Scripture and/or a meditation on Scripture.

(Too bad I'm the one enforcing all this.)

The worst is postpartum, and it's compounded by the fact that pregnancy is usually the time when I'm most faithful in attending to prayer because it's the closest we ever get to not having an actual baby in the house, and I can never sleep. Insomnia is great for piety, ha ha ha. Anyway, I come home from the hospital feeling the need for prayer more than ever and having almost zero opportunity for it. I miss prayer so much after I've really been in the habit, and my heart is always brimming with thanks for my new baby and having been safely delivered, but I'm too exhausted and fall asleep if left unattended for more than three seconds. Then four months later I emerge from the baby hole and have to figure this out all over again. Flesh, you're beyond lame.

Give me an M!
Give me an O!
Give me an R-T-I-F-Y!
Mortify, Mortify, MOR TI FY!!!

*Yes, mothers are tired. I've mentioned it myself. On the other hand . . . so is everyone else. The only time mothers really are more tired than most other people is postpartum (until the baby sort of learns to sleep) and when someone is sick or otherwise experiences major sleep disturbances. It's true that most people don't ever have to get up in the middle of the night. But barring the exceptions listed above, that usually isn't a terribly big deal either. If people who work regular jobs can find or make time to say their prayers every day, so can we.


Gauntlets said...

This is great, in no small part because of the cheerful nuns. I think they're going to carry me all the way through the weekend. :D

I'm terrible at making time for prayer. The best I ever seem to manage, like you said, is during pregnancy when I can't sleep anyway. But I usually have the kitchen to myself when it's time to prepare supper, and there's usually 15 or so minutes between finishing the dishes and serving things up . . . I could probably make better use of those 15 minutes, as right now they're pretty much devoted to toe picking. :P

MooreMama said...

One benifit to working outside the home: the commute. Now, mine is only +/- 15 minutes, but each way gives me time to myself and my brain and my inadequate-but-getting-better prayers.

Sarah D said...

For me it comes to bedtime or first thing the morning at the breakfast table when everyone is a little groggy anyway.

Joy said...

I think the most sincere prayers are the ones that are the most desperate--and those certainly aren't the ones we plan. I have, on occasion, shouted out loud, "Lord, I need help!" Then the kids look at me weird and shape up. Sweet irony, the request for help can serve as the help itself!

Reb. Mary said...

Lovin', lovin', lovin' the sloth. Three fingers are a sometimes-employed sign around here (you know, the three-toed sloth and all? hmmm. guess you have to be here.)

This is all quite useful. The (very) modest success I've had in such ventures lately is due largely to a similar no-reading-till-devotional-pages-done rule. Early mornings tend to be a wash for me, but I try to at least meditate on the words of a hymn in the shower to get things started right in the day. A few simple changes like that go a long way toward ordering the scattering goats throughout the day.

Because I like to complain, I will contend that mothers (working or no) are indeed more tired than the general population. But maybe I only feel that way because we can't seem to produce any babies who sleep decently until they're 10-11 months...Check back in a little while and I'll have changed my mind.

All too true: >> If people who work regular jobs can find or make time to say their prayers every day, so can we << One could even argue that we at home have even more opportunity than those working outside. How many other people can pause on the job to say a prayer or two and sing a hymn with the people around them? Then too, there's that thing about diaper changing becoming a prayer that I'm sure Gauntlets will enlighten us about, should she ever track it down. :)

Thursday's Child said...

Oh, it is so hard and I have no baby at home. I got the TDP for Christmas and I keep it in my book bag for school. When I get to school I open it and do the day's readings/prayer. Then I prepare for my students. If I'm interrupted I use my do it during a free period but I really try to be at school early enough to avoid those.

Sometimes you have to work hard to find a time you don't have work to do. ;)

Sir Cuthbert said...

A comforting observation from Dr. Luther:

"Wherever a Christian is, there the Holy Spirit is, who does nothing else but pray constantly. For though a Christian is not constantly moving his lips and speaking words, his heart neverthesless moves and beats (just like the pulse in the body) and always throbs with such sighs as these: Dear Father, may Thy name be hallowed; may Thy Kingdom come; may Thy will be done by us and everyone. And the harder the blows of life or temptation and trouble beat upon him, the stronger such sighs and prayers become, even vocally. Therefore you cannot find a Christian without prayer, just as you cannot find a living man without a pulse. The pulse never stands still; it is always throbbing and beating by itself, even though a man is sleeping or doing something else and, therefore, is not aware of it."

Also, what's wrong with asking your husband for help? You ladies all seem to have great husbands. I bet each of them would be glad of such an opportunity to cherish his beloved lady. Let him be your Sir Scudamour and keep the barbarians at bay for a while.

Rebekah said...

Joy, sincerity comes naturally, while discipline does not. I'm sorely in need of the latter, and of learning to be sincere in prayer even when it isn't driven by urgency.

RM, in my heart of hearts I think we're more tired too. But then I consider how EVERY TIME we have company I'm the only one left awake in the afternoon to watch the kids . . . whatever. :P I'm trying to be charitable or scientific or something. I think the real difference is that other people think they're entitled to sleep when they're tired, but parents have learned we're not.

TC, exactly!

Sir Cuthbert, great quotation. Thanks, and may it be unto me as Dr Luther has said. I know the husbands in these parts would be very agreeable. But the trick to keeping them agreeable is not asking too often. ;)

Joy said...

As long as discipline isn't driven by legalism, it's fine. Prayer is a welcome blessing wherever and whenever, not something to feel guilty about if you can't do it away from the children.