Sunday, July 22, 2007

Making Time for Prayer

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

Luke 10: 38 - 42

As some of you might be aware, I contribute to the CE on Time blog on Catholic Exchange. The primary focus of that blog is to help readers make the most of the time God has given them. The other writers and I offer suggestions on organization and household chores and work-life balance. All those things are incredibly important and necessary for our daily lives. After all, the laundry is not going to get into the washer all by itself, and only in my wildest dreams are my young children going to get themselves up, fed, dressed and out the door for school without any help from me!

No matter our state in life, we all have responsibilities. There is always something or someone demanding our attention. There is always one more thing that could be done before our head hits the pillow. Yet, by far, the most important thing that needs to be done in our lives is prayer. At the children’s mass this week, our pastor used a large clock as a prop for his homily. He asked the children sitting around him what time they got up in the morning, had supper, went to school, watched television, etc. Each time someone answered he would move the hands of the clock to that time. Then he asked them, “What time of day do you pray?” There were those who did have a definite time for prayer. He emphasized, however, that while it is wonderful to have a set time for prayer, the crucial thing is to make sure that we do pray each day. We need to set aside time to be with God.

St. Paul tells us to “pray always.” In many ways, our life’s work can be part of our prayer. In our work and family life, we serve others. We tend the creation that God gave us. We love others. We can offer the work of our hands to God as a gift. These are all good things. But we must also set aside time to truly just be with God, to raise our hearts and minds to Him.

I find it easier to keep a schedule for my prayers, to say certain prayers in the morning and others before bed. That way, it is part of my routine and doesn’t get put off. Other prayers I say throughout the day, often while I am engaged in other tasks like pushing my children on the swings or driving the car. In addition, there are often situations that arise in the day that require an immediate request for divine assistance. By the same token, there are moments that call for divine praise and thanksgiving.

We all have time for prayer. In fact, the busier you are, the more you need it. You can’t go out and meet the needs of all the people who depend on you if you haven’t allowed God to fill up your inner reserves first. I can feel it when I haven’t taken the time to center myself with my prayer time. I get more easily aggravated. I try to rush and make bigger messes of things! My day just doesn’t go well.

If you don’t already set aside time each day for prayer, I invite you to do so. Start with 5 minutes. Everyone has 5 minutes. Say prayers that you know or use a prayer card. If you feel more comfortable simply talking with God and bringing your needs before Him, do that. You may also just want to be still in His presence. There is no right or wrong way to pray. God is always there waiting for us to make contact. Prayer is the single most important thing you can do to have a productive day because God will help you spend your time where He wants you to spend it. What could me more productive than that?

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