Whether or not your studies or occupation revolve around the typical academic calendar, most people experience some degree of transition during the summer months. With summer oftentimes comes a significant change in our schedules, the places we live, the people we are around, and our priorities in how we spend our time. While this shift is usually the most distinct for students and others who work in education, many would agree that the summer months present unique opportunities and challenges for them, including in their spiritual lives. When undergoing any transition in life, our habits of prayer frequently suffer due to the change and upheaval of routine caused by the transition. Here are three tips for maintaining and strengthening the structure and discipline within your prayer life during the summer months.
Know Your Options
One of the first steps to take when considering how to maintain your prayer life throughout the summer is to assess what opportunities will be available to you. It is possible that you will be in a new place for the summer and will need to look up when and where the sacraments will be offered. Our personal schedules in addition to church and ministry schedules are frequently adjusted during the summer. Which churches will be closest to where you will be this summer, and when do they offer daily mass and confession? Do they have set times for Eucharistic Adoration? Are there ministries or other groups in your area that will be hosting gatherings for prayer and community? Once you have gathered this information, you will better be able to decide how you can best prioritize daily prayer, the sacraments, and growing in community within your summer schedule.
Make Clear and Reasonable Goals
The next step is to decide when and where you will pray each day. Use the information you gathered about the opportunities for the sacraments along with your knowledge of your daily schedule and responsibilities to make specific and realistic prayer goals for yourself. This is an important step whether you are adjusting your prayer routine for a time of transition or you are beginning a habit of prayer for the first time. Make your goals for prayer reasonable for where you are at spiritually but also challenge yourself to grow. Avoid making goals that will be too overwhelming or that you realistically won’t be able to accomplish. For instance, if you are in the habit of praying a decade of the rosary and then listening to music on your drive to work, a reasonable goal could be to increase your time of prayer and say a whole rosary during your drive. Setting goals that are specific is helpful for achieving them. Rather than simply saying you would like to attend daily mass twice a week, decide the two days you will go and what time you will attend.
Reach Out to Friends for Help
Accountability is often the push we need to move from intention to action. Share your goals for maintaining and growing in your prayer life this summer with a few trusted family members or friends. Ask them to regularly check in with you about whether or not you are sticking to your goals and growing in intimacy with God. In addition to seeking accountability, invite others to join you for time in prayer and receiving the sacraments when possible. It’s easy and very tempting to cancel on your own individual plans at the last minute, but it is much more difficult to cancel at the last minute when others are expecting you.
Don’t forget to ask for help from your heavenly friends too! Ask for your guardian angel to give you a nudge when the moment of decision comes about whether or not you will stick to your prayer routine. Pray for intercession of the saints to continue growing in faithfulness and discipline in times of change and transition. When we remember to ask for their assistance, the saints and angels are very generous in helping us in our growth in holiness.
With these few tips, I hope that you feel prepared to create a summer prayer routine that aligns with the demands of your summer responsibilities and allows for a continued deepening of your relationship with God.
Bethany Dhingra is a millennial with a missionary heart. She loves using her Catholic Studies and Communications degrees from the University of St. Thomas to draw others into a relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church. She served as a campus missionary with FOCUS for 3 years. Most recently, Bethany is living in Missouri with her husband and learning how to follow Christ through the sacrament of marriage.