Pilgrimage into Prayer ~ When Plans Fail

holy experience
Pilgrimage into Prayer...
I read a passage in For The Family's Sake recently, in which Susan Schaeffer Macaulay described her frustration at finding a good time to spend in prayer, Bible reading and meditation during the years when her children were young. While reading the biography of Charlotte Mason, she learned how Miss Mason set aside "the best time of each day" for these practices. For Charlotte Mason, it was following her afternoon walk, when she felt "quite fresh".
For me, the best time of day is early morning. By afternoon, I'm often feeling anything but "fresh"! I usually spend the hour our so after my husband has gone off to work in prayer, meditation, journal keeping, and Bible reading. Those few moments of quiet allow me to spend time at the feet of Jesus, in order to prepare my heart and mind to face the day.
Life being what it is, some days just don't work out the way I plan for them to. Take this morning for instance... For some unknown reason, all of my girls tumbled out of bed as soon as the kitchen light flickered on at 4: 15 a.m., and were ready to start the day. I, on the other hand, was not! They always wander down the hall to give Daddy a hug and kiss goodbye as he is leaving; but normally all head right back to their beds for a few more hours of sleep allowing me to settle on the loveseat with a cup of tea and meet with the Lord. Not today...no, no, not happening, and of course, this was one of those "need quiet" mornings for me. Sometimes noise is just too much...noise.
At 6:00 a.m., they wanted to go sit outside and wait for Auntie to arrive with little cousin Emma, who spends her days with us now. From 4:45 when my husband left until 6:00, they were mostly in their bedroom...talking, jumping, making all sorts of odd noises, turning on the radio to the station that was anything but "positive and encouraging" for me so early in the morning. There was not a bit of much needed quiet to be found this morning.
I tried to pray, really I did. Yet, not only was the hum of activity from the children distracting, my mind was racing, thinking all sorts of disconnected thoughts; it was every bit as noisy inside my head as it was outside. Not a good way to start the morning, not at all.
What do I do on days like this, when despite my best planning and efforts, I fail?
On those days, I return to the age old prayers that have been repeated countless times over the years. Prayers that are not commonly prayed in the church realm I grew up in. Oh, yes, we all learned the Lord's Prayer in Sunday school...but I do not remember it being prayed in church...ever. I do wonder why?

(photo of church windows snapped during our weekend wandering)
The Our Father or The Lord's Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done
in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
And the others, the Glory Be and the Jesus Prayer; those I discovered in my own spiritual searchings as, with a group of friends, I studied the Spiritual Disciplines and read much on prayer.
I have come to love the simple beauty of these prayers, and return to them often...especially on days like today, when I am distracted and quickly becoming distraught!
Glory Be to the Father or Gloria Patri
Glory be to the Father,
And to the Son,
And to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning,
is now,
And ever shall be,
World without end.
And the one I feel the to pray most often-
the Jesus Prayer
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
Have mercy on me, a sinner.
Some days I just repeat just 3 words....Jesus have mercy, Jesus have mercy, Jesus have mercy...for as long as I need to.
It is amazing how a few moments spent breathing out one of these prayers stills the soul and centers the mind. And they aren't just words, these prayers...not at all. Read them, pray them...they are powerful, beautiful prayers...ones that touch the heart of God, and change the heart of man.
For more on a Pilgrimage into Prayer, stop by Holy Experience today.


  1. "Jesus have mercy" is a wonderful prayer. I'll try to keep it with me today. Thank you for sharing.

  2. SUCH a great perspective.... to pray "prayers in the bible" and prayers that hymn writers have written.

    I too, know the BUZZ of children's noise, and the distraction in brings...

    Praise the Lord for your post, and your honest words!

  3. Thank you for the inspiration to "keep at it"; to find different ways to commune with the Father when our hearts are distracted.

  4. Well, dear Friend, that is so the truth...and so many times I whisper that very phrase, jesus have mercy...and I know He does
    In Him,

  5. I am often faced with those less than ideal days and it's through them I am learning that I have to "roll with the punches". I just have to. Because most days will not turn out as well planned as I would like. The question is, what am I doing with what I've been given? Am I making the most of it or am I treating the bad days as an excuse to "take a break" or give up trying? I am learning to work through those tough days and really seek the Lord's face through the noise. IT IS HARD. But it's also much more fruitful than it would've been had I given into just allowing myself to fail at trying to make the most of the opportunities.

    Mornings are hard for me, even though I love doing it. It can totally be frustrating when I plan to get up just for the Lord and the Littles wake up early and "invade" my time/space with Him. This is where I need a new perspective and I know it. Rather than see it as an invasion, I can use it as an opportunity to snuggle with my little one while I read and scribble down thoughts. They can *see* mommy communing with the Father.

    This, I am learning, everyday. It's these moments God is using to teach me how to train my children in Him.
    Thank you for sharing and being transparent. :) That's what it's all about and we can work through it knowing we're not alone.

  6. Sis, I hear ya! You know what, though? On those kind of days when the kids are up at the crack of dawn and the day shrinks, when you desperately need a little Jesus to get by, that is a prayer! Just wanting Him close by, no closer, inside, is a prayer. HE loves you so much!

  7. Thanks for sharing. I will remember to pray these prayers next time I am distracted and have no "quiet" time.

  8. Catherine, thanks so much for coming by via Ann's the other day and leaving your kind words. Your post speaks to me today, reminding me that sometimes these prayers give us just what we need to grab onto and find ourselves back in His presence. (And I'd say we all have days like this -- except I don't think they all start at 4:00 in the morning for most of us!) Thank you so much...

  9. What a wonderful post and prayer.
    Love your blog..
    I had a few hours to blog hop tonight and enjoyed yours. Hope you will stop by and visit my new Christmas blog. There is a great giveaway this week. http://grammyababychangeseverything.blogspot.com


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