A Clean Slate

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My computer inbox has been flooded with information about healthy starts – the best diets for the New Year, great ways to get in shape, even ideas for healthy snacks for the whole family. I’ve noticed that on television, most of the commercials are about fitness and weight loss, too. The New Year makes us want to start fresh, to work hard and get our act together.

I didn’t realize how inundated I had been with all this healthy-start information until I received my monthly email from Dairy Queen’s Blizzard Fan Club. Yes, I am a member. I opened the message that asked me, their loyal fan, to forward this information to a friend, to spread the word about the awesomeness of the Blizzard.

Poor ice cream, I thought, you are desperate. This is the time of year when the parking lot of my gym seems a little fuller than before. People have big plans for themselves, and those plans don’t include soft serve and toffee bars.

I realized, when I was thinking about setting personal goals, that no matter how lofty my plans might be, they have to be scaled down to a day-by-day basis. It’s easy to declare I want to compete in a triathlon this summer, but what does that mean for me practically? If the goal is too large, it can just sit there, collecting dust until next December.

Likewise, the person who hopes to lose twenty or thirty pounds has to have a practical plan for making that happen. It all boils down to looking at the smallest pieces of the puzzle and figuring out what daily tasks can achieve that goal.

One of the best resolutions we can make is to pray – to have more prayer in our lives. It sounds easy enough, but just like weight loss or race training, achievement requires making tiny, specific goals. It’s not enough to say I want to have a great prayer life – I need a plan to make that happen.

In Lesson One in Prayer, Peter Kreeft notes that the best way to have a good prayer life is quite simple. “The single most important piece of advice I know about prayer is also the simplest,” he writes, “Just do it!”

He goes on to note that over half the battle of spending time in prayer is actually finding the time to make it happen. It seems easy enough, but really, how many of us say we want to pray more if only…(insert excuse here). Kreeft points out that prayer is a lot like Thanksgiving dinner. “It takes one hour to eat it,” he writes, “and ten hours to prepare it.”

A friend and I were recently talking about prayer in our own lives. This friend is one of those dear people who will ask how my prayer life is going (and then I return the favor). If you don’t have someone like this in your life, I recommend finding one. There have been so many times when the subject of prayer comes up and I realize, out of the blue, that I have slipped in my prayer life. My conversations with my friend leave me feeling encouraged – not condemned – to get back in the habit.

My friend was telling me that during the recent 40 Days for Life, her family managed to pray the rosary every day. They simply decided they would do it. She attributed this to grace, noting that all of her children were excited and motivated to pray as a family everyday. It strengthened them, and the fruit in their life as a family was noticeable.

I went away from our conversation wanting more of that grace in my own life, and in the life of my family.

In the midst of fresh starts and clean slates, I am amping up the prayer. Theoretically speaking, I want a better prayer life – for me personally and for my family.

Practically, I realize the best way to make that happen is to just sit down and do it. 1570″



  1. Anonymous says:

    two words: daily Mass.

  2. Heather Viz says:

    yes Mass is awesome, but sometimes it’s hard when you’re in the throes of morning sickness. But that’s just me. I finally just sat down and wrote out all of my intentions and put them into my PDA. Then I wrote a “blanket” prayer to cover anything that i forgot, or didn’t know about. Of course I think of things as I am praying this, and it has helped me as I tend to be very a.d.d., and forget what I was even doing. Before, I could start out great and then I would realize that I was thinking what color I wanted to paint the walls, and oh by the way – the couch would look great on that wall wouldn’t it? See? So, having a set format helps for me…it might for you too.
    Happy Saturday,
    Heather Viz

  3. Mass is indeed wonderful, but there are seasons when daily Mass is not an option (Henry is pretty loud right now). That’s when quiet meditation and time for praise — in my front room — can do the trick.