Yesterday, we began our video series entitled “How to Create a Self-Culture”. The first episode centered on why we would create a “self-culture” in the first place, as well as why prayer is a prerequisite for creating this culture.
In the video, I tell the story of one of my favorite sports teams. They pulled off an incredible upset several years ago. After the game, the coach ran out on the court, jumped for joy, threw his arms in the air, and vigorously looked for someone to hug. But, they lost the next several games to sub-par teams. In my opinion, the coach knew the point of the game: to win. But, he didn’t know how to replicate what led up to the upset victory. He couldn’t sustain long-term success.
We create a “self-culture” to avoid what Father Mike Schmitz and others call “drift”. Drift is when a person meanders through life with little direction. The problem with drift, he says, is that sometimes people actually get to a good place (think the coach I mentioned above). But, they don’t know how they got there. So, replicating that “good place” is very difficult.
Creating a self-culture will help us know our purpose in life or our “why”. It will also help us live that “why” effectively and consistently (in other words, avoid drift). We will do this by crafting a vision statement, a mission statement, core values, and expectations and boundaries. Our vision is our end goal. Our mission is a brief statement of how we will fulfill that end goal. The core values are behaviors that will help us fulfill our mission. The expectations and boundaries are practical steps that will help us live our values practically.
As always, we begin with prayer. There are two reasons for this:
- We want know recognize and live our identity as children of God, loved for who we are, not what we do.
- We want to discern the mission that God is calling us to for His plans for us are greater than our plans for us.
If you currently have a consistent prayer routine, stick with that. I hope you find the steps supplemental for continuing with your prayer routine. But, if you don’t have a prayer routine, here are is a five-step process that you can do anywhere, anytime, as long as you make about 10 or 15 minutes. Feel free to pray longer too!
- Vocal Prayer: Begin with any prayer of your choosing-the Our Father, the Hail Mary, the Glory Be, a Come Holy Spirit prayer, etc. The Our Father is a great prayer to start because it includes praise, surrender, petition, and contrition all in one! Vocal prayer will help us center our focus on God.
- Prayer of Gratitude: Gratitude helps us re-frame our perspective from the negative to the positive. Whatever God wills or allows is for our good. So, we can thank God for the obvious blessings in our lives, but we can also thank Him for those things we find difficult or confusing, knowing that they will help us grow if we view them in a positive light.
- Examen Prayer: The examen is an inventory of desires on your heart, the things in the past 24 or 48 hours that you have done well, and the things in that time frame that you did not do so well. Our Heavenly Father desires to affirm us for the times we responded to his grace. He also desires to heal us from our sin because He knows that sin doesn’t make us happy. So, when you call to mind those times when you failed, don’t get discouraged! Bring them to the light, ask for forgiveness, and allow the Divine Physician to heal you!
- Lectio Divina: This is a slow, prayerful reading of Scripture. I recommend downloading the IMissal app, the Truth & Life app, or subscribing to the Magnificat as these have the daily Gospel readings. The author of Hebrews says that “the word of God is living and active”. We can encounter Christ in the Scriptures daily! Here is the process I-well, actually my spiritual director-recommends.
- Read-read through the daily Gospel reading slowly several times.
- Reflect-pick out a word or phrase that sticks out to you and ask the Lord to reveal a certain truth about that word or phrase that He may want you to learn.
- Request-Ask for a specific grace from what the Lord revealed to you about that word or phrase.
- Rest-Simply sit in the presence of God as you would in the presence of a good friend. This happens to be the last step of prayer as well.
- Rest: Think Saint John as he rested on Jesus at the Last Supper. If you have a good friend, you know that you are comfortable and content just being with them. You don’t necessarily have to say anything. When you rest in the presence of God, He will work on your heart.
If you do this prayer process-or continue to do your process-consistently for several days and weeks, you will be able to see a difference in your relationship with Christ. You will become more self-aware. You will, dare I say, become happier. You will recognize and live your identity as a child of God. You will also, slowly but surely, discern the mission God to which God is calling you. This mission will more than likely be in the exact same place and around the exact same people. But, the mission will give you a renewed purpose and perspective for living your life effectively and consistently.
I hope you’ve found this helpful. Please go to www.effectivecatholic.com for more content and resources. Subscribe to receive three-to-five minute personal development in your e-mail inbox each day. Be on the lookout for Monday’s podcast. My mom will share some valuable leadership advice from her incredibly successful time with Mary Kay Cosmetics. We will continue with this video series next week at 5 PM EST on Facebook Live on my page. Thanks for watching and reading! `
What is your prayer routine? Please comment below.
Ignatius Catholic Study Bible New Testament. 2nd Edition. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010.
Schmitz, Mike. “Series: Ordinary Time.” UMD Newman, 2018, https://bulldogcatholic.org/series-ordinary-time/. Accessed 6 July 2018.