HOME ALTAR. How many times have you watched an old movie or read a historical novel and told yourself, “I don’t know how they did it back then.” You can’t imagine living during a time where you had to wash and dry your clothes without the help of your energy-efficient washer and dryer, or prepare dinner minus your convection oven or multi-burner cooktop. Not too long ago, laundry day meant you had to wash clothes by hand, and feeding your family required growing your fruits and vegetables and relying on your hens for eggs. Who had the time? Yet even with all the technologically advanced gadgets and tools we have at our disposal today, our proverbial plates are always full and our calendars are so jam-packed we don’t know how to fit in another event. As we try to juggle all of our tasks, a lot of things fall to the wayside.

One of the things that are left off our to-do list is praying. Many of us don’t intentionally omit prayer from our daily lives; we are so consumed with everything else we’re ashamed to admit that we often forget to pray. Yet neglecting to pray is like neglecting to eat. Without food our bodies aren’t nourished, and without prayer our souls aren’t nourished. The importance of prayer is repeated throughout the Bible. In 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 Paul says, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” In a recent homily, Pope Francis further stressed the importance of prayer, saying that when we don’t pray we’re “closing the door to the Lord, so that He can do nothing. On the other hand, prayer, in the face of a problem, a difficult situation, a calamity, is opening the door to the Lord so that He will come.” He goes on to say, “This is what praying is: opening the door to the Lord, so that he can do something.” Praying isn’t only about asking for God’s intercession; it’s also a time to give thanks and to sit in silent reflection to listen to what God wants to say to you.

How can we remember to pray? Instead of “out of sight, out of mind,” we use the phrase, “in sight, in mind.” Having a daily visual reminder–such as a prayer altar–in your home will help you to remember to carve out some time during the day or evening to reflect on God and pray. Setting up a prayer altar is a beautiful opportunity to teach your children about the Catholic faith. Even children who only seem to be interested in their electronic devices will stop and inquire about the prayer altar.