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A Call to ORDER - Part 1: Setting an Achievable Goal

Jan 04, 2024

It's the New Year and this is typically the time when I spend some time reflecting on what did or did not happen last year. Then my thoughts turn to expectations for the New Year... and for many years that's where I'd get into trouble! 

Expectations for this sanguine means BIG GOALS, BIG DREAMS! Oh, and I mean BIG! I'd settle into my goal planning mode, I'd make the lists and checklists, I'd set dates and dream BIG! 

For soo many years I was ALL or NOTHING. If my dream or goal was dashed in the first few days, I scrapped it. If I felt the teeny-tiniest bit of overwhelm, I quit (spoiler - self-reliance is a THING and I do not mean a good thing!).

After throwing in the towel the "tapes" began to play...

"Why do you do this to yourself?"

"When will you learn? "

"You aren't that (fill in the blank)!"

"You will never (fill in the blank again!)!"

Sister, Can you relate? 

Fast forward to 2019 - That was the year when God taught me so much about myself, my marriage, my parenting and Trust (I'll share about 2019 another time). That was the year many of my dreams, goals and plans were completely flipped upside down! 

Through the turmoil and deep suffering of 2019 I leaned on God and my marriage and at the end of 2019 I realized that God was calling me to order. He needed me to follow & understand His order, and to implement the order He was calling me to. (for all of the ICW members... you know what we say: "work for what we pray!")

With much prayer and discernment God called me to FIRST - get my "house" in order. And by "house," I mean the home, the temple of my soul -- He called me to prayer!

As Fr. Jacques Philippe says in his book: Time for God, "prayer is not a technique, but a grace." With this mindset, I began my quest for a better friendship with God. This is not an "easy" task -- but it is a simple one and it all begins with a GOAL! 

In 2020, I set ONE simple (but not easy) goal: SPEND TIME IN DAILY PRAYER - On January 1, 2020 I set out to spend more time in prayer, more time with God - here is how I broke down that goal: I set a timer for 5 minutes, said a prayer to the Holy Spirit, and then began writing down things like:

+ Our evening schedule 

+ Our morning schedule 

+ The current obstacles to my prayer (distractions, where will I pray, phone, materials)

+ What time of day will my prayer be attentive (not a time when I might doze off!)?

+ What are my fears about prayer?

+ How much time will I realistically spend in prayer? 

+ What prayers I like? 

+ Will I keep a journal? 

TIME IS UP! With that brain dump I had what I needed to begin forming my habit - a consistent habit -- I DID NOT say perfect habit. This was the beginning of realizing my goal.

With this list I could now begin to chip away at each element of preparation for my time with and for God. These are practical steps to begin the journey into living in the Presence of God. I encourage you to ask God to lead you into the practical steps for your prayer habit. 

Now, entering 2024 I can say that my prayer habit is consistent - it isn't easy, and God is with me EVERY step of the way. This year's "Soul Goal" - a more consistent Daily Examen. Please pray for me, I am praying for you... now start on that prayer goal -- start somewhere -- just start - NOW! 

I use the S.M.A.R.T. acronym in goal planning. I hope it helps you too - here's what it looked like for this daily prayer goal: 

S - Specific, M - Measurable, A - Achievable, R - Relevant, T - Time bound 

Specific - when making a goal in prayer be specific - I wanted to spend more time in prayer so my goal needed to have specific ways and a specific TIME after I brain dumped I came up with the amount of time I was striving for in prayer daily AND when I would do it.

Measurable - My prayer goal was measurable in that I did decide to keep a journal - the journal helped me to see my consistency and more importantly to see how God was working and blessing my life and the time we spent together.

Achievable - By keeping expectations out of the goal and remembering my ultimate goal - HEAVEN - my goal became achievable because I KNOW God loves me and wants me with Him in heaven! More prayer time is achievable with His grace. 

Relevant - Yes! This goal is totally relevant to my call to live an integrated life. It is also relevant to making myself available and present to God's grace in prayer.

Time Bound - In an effort to grow in friendship with God I review my prayer life with my spiritual director at least 4 times a year. 

Now it's your turn... what are you waiting for?? Please know I am praying for YOU! And in your charity...please pray for me.

Join Father Noah Carter & the ENTIRE ICW Community LIVE on January 25, 2024 at 8pm Eastern for a SPECIAL EVENT on Prayer! Join us via zoom for an hour of diving into prayer: what it is, what it isn't, and how you can grow in your prayer life this year! Register NOW! Space is limited! 

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