AnneMarie Miller provides tips for proactively making prayer happen while on the road.
I love taking trips and exploring new places, but I don’t always love the aftermath: the dirty laundry, settling back into “normal” life after fun adventures on the road, and facing the usual chores of cooking and cleaning once again. Yet what’s even worse is the state of my prayer life.
When I prepare for a trip, I pore over maps and itineraries, restaurant choices and activities for hours on end. However, I often assume that prayer will “just happen.” Unfortunately, more times than I can count, this assumption has not held true. Despite my best intentions, my prayer life completely falls aside. In a way, this makes sense: when we take trips -- whether for business or pleasure -- our typical daily routine is lost. If our prayer life is tightly attached to our usual schedule, then losing our routine can easily mean losing our prayer.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Vacations not only can rejuvenate our bodies and minds; they can refresh our souls. With just a little planning beforehand, we can create ways to stay in prayerful conversation with God while travelling. Here are some questions we can ask ourselves as we plan our summer trips this year:
What are my prayer priorities?
While on vacation, it’s easy for the time to get caught up in visiting attractions or attending special events. We may not be able to do all that we would at home, so it’s good to figure out our priorities so we know what to make time for. For example, spending the first 30 minutes of the day in silent prayer may be our “normal” at home, but if we’re crammed into one hotel room with our children, we may not be able to achieve that. However, if silent prayer each day is a priority, we can creatively find ways to do this on vacation, even if it’s just for 5 or 10 minutes each day.
What prayer materials should I bring?
While we don’t “need” any physical objects for prayer, they are often helpful. Let’s think about what we can realistically bring on vacation to help ourselves and our families in prayer. Perhaps we could pack a small cross and electric candle to create a makeshift “home altar” in the bedroom. Alternatively, we could bring a small image of Christ or the saints to use as a focal point. Even if we can’t engage in our normal prayer practices with the materials we are used to at home, we can still find ways to sanctify our space while on the road.
Can we make a pilgrimage?
We may think that pilgrimages are exclusively multi-day trips on foreign soil, but even a small side trip while on vacation stateside can be a prayerful pilgrimage. Look at the area you’ll be visiting and its surrounding cities. Are there any Catholic shrines, buried saints, or special churches nearby? Taking just a couple of hours to visit a site and pray as a family can be an incredible experience. When our family once drove through Memphis, Tennessee, we briefly stopped at the National Shrine of St. Martin de Porres. Even though we stayed for less than an hour, it was a wonderful chance to pray and learn more about a little-discussed saint.
When will we pray?
If our schedule is dependent on other people or travel conditions, it’s tough to make our own plans beforehand. Yet, making a flexible plan is key to getting our prayer time in. Perhaps we can schedule family prayer before bed. Perhaps praying a Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet in the car as a family will work best. Figure out an initial routine, and hold each other accountable to it while on vacation -- and if the plan doesn’t work, then change it and try again!
God longs to be in conversation with each of us, and it’s important that we make time to communicate with Him each day. If we put so much time into figuring out where we’ll eat on vacation, couldn’t we put a little time into figuring out when we’ll pray?
There are many different ways to bring God on vacation with us. Let’s ask God to guide and help us as we look for ways to nurture our prayer lives while on the road.
What are other ways we can help our prayer lives thrive on vacation?
Copyright 2021 AnneMarie Miller
Images (from top): Pixabay (2018); photo of the St. Martin De Porres National Shrine: Copyright 2020 AnneMarie Miller, all rights reserved.
About the Author
Eagerly seeking new adventures each day, AnneMarie enjoys life in Oklahoma with her husband and little boy. She has a passion for the Faith and particularly loves learning more about the Liturgy, saints, and various devotions. AnneMarie’s musings on Catholicism, literature, and motherhood can be found on her blog, Sacrifice of Love.