I recently acquired a Garmin Nuvi 265wt GPS unit. Along with the usual GPS features, this one includes something called an “EcoScore.” This is your “economy score.” The GPS monitors your speed and how smoothly the car starts and stops. It rates your driving on a scale of 0-100. The better you drive (no jack rabbit starts and stops, not spending time idle, not driving at excessive speeds, etc.), the higher your score. This feature turns my daily commute into a little game where I’m trying to change my driving habits to reach a higher score. Unfortunately I have not broken the 80 barrier for my average EcoScore on my daily commute. I’m hoping that one of these days, if I can catch a lot of green lights, I will hit an 85 average score.
So what does this new, shiny gadget have to do with your prayer life? OK, I would be lying if I didn’t put that into my post to brag about my new GPS device a little. But it got me thinking about how much more effort I put into various tasks when I know I’m being measured or rated in some way. I play hard in sports because I want to win. I work out hard at the gym because I want to keep a trim waistline or be able to do more push ups over time. I’m focused at work in order to get projects done ahead of schedule. In general, competition makes people perform at their best.
I think part of the reason why many people are turning away from their faith and prayer is because they do not rate their prayer life. Because they do not see some sort of tangible, measurable result from their prayers they turn to activities where they can see more visible results (like the accumulation of money or possessions). I think that if people started rating their prayer life the same way they measure their bank accounts you would see a run on rosaries. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am in no way comparing prayer and faith to sports and work. I don’t want to trivialize prayer by turning it into a competition with others. Just to put things in the proper perspective, on a scale of 1-100 I bet most of us are a two or three at best when compared to the example set by Jesus.
Instead of prayer being a competition with others, I want to challenge you to make prayer a competition with yourself. Ask yourself, how often do you pray earnestly? How often do you go to church, pray the rosary, attend adoration, and go to confession? Do you contribute time and/or money to charity? I’m sure no matter where you are in your faith journey, there are ways you can improve. Especially during Lent, we should rate our prayer life and compare that to where we want to be. Let us look to the Lord and the Catholic Church as our coach in this competition.
Here are a few things to get you started on rating your spiritual life. Remember, this is used to measure your current habits against where you want to be, not measure yourself against others. If you are rating yourself against others you might as well knock off some points for pride. Look at this list, or create your own, and see if you can improve each week. It’s time to evaluate your Prayer Score!
- Go to Sunday Mass: +1
- Go to Mass on a weekday: +2
- Pray the rosary: +2
- Go to confession: +5 (+10 if it has been more than five years since your last confession)
- Go to adoration: +5 (+20 if you stay all night)
- Fast for a day: +4 (+7 if you fast on bread and water only)
- Say grace before each meal: +1
- Read a chapter in the Bible: +2
- Donate money to charity: +3
- Donate time for a charitable cause: +5
- Learn something from the Catechism: +3
- Commit a venial sin: -2
- Commit a mortal sin: -10
- Do not defend the Church or the faith when others mock it: -5