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Making the Sacrifices Necessary for Prayer

hands people woman girl
hands people woman girl
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Today’s post was first printed in the Catholic Voice of Omaha. I think it’s particularly relevant as we begin Lent this week. As a reminder, enrollment for the course Nothing Shall I Want: Peace Through Detachment ends Sunday, with the first lesson available on Monday.

Now that we have established the fact that prayer, as the “one thing necessary,” should be our top priority, we’re ready to talk about finding time for prayer.

As we saw previously, the Catechism calls prayer a “battle.” Finding time for prayer is one of the battles we must fight. We fight against the Devil, who will do his utmost to keep us distant from God. We fight against the world, which tells us prayer is a waste of time. We fight against ourselves and our inclination for a life of pleasure.

“I don’t have time to pray!”

Prayer takes sacrifice. Whether we are just starting out or wishing to grow in our prayer life, God asks us to give something up for his sake. We may hesitate. We may wonder if it’s worth it. We may question the need. On the other hand, we make sacrifices for many other things that are important to us. To afford a major vacation, we give up going out to eat. To afford a better school for the kids, we take on a part-time job. If prayer is more necessary than any of these things, we can also make the sacrifices necessary to practice it.

Simplify your life

But where is the time for prayer to come from? The more technology we have, the busier we seem to be. No one has time to just sit any more. Do we have time to sit and talk to God? In order to make the time, you may have to simplify your life. Can you take a fast from Facebook? Say “no” to the next volunteer opportunity? Limit the activities your kids need a chauffeur for?

Simplifying your life sometimes extends to material possessions. The more we possess, the more time we spend on the upkeep of our possessions. How much time could you save if you had a smaller house? Gave your surplus goods to the poor? Took vacations closer to home? Minimized your cell phone data plan?

Sacrifice could come in the realm of entertainment. Consider how much time you spend watching movies and TV. Could you skip half an hour’s program daily and spend the time with God instead?

Make adjustments

Your best time may be that half hour when you reflexively hit the snooze button. You aren’t being productive then anyway, and you’re not getting much rest. If you can, schedule prayer for first thing in the morning. You’re less likely to forget it or let other activities take priority.

Your whole family may need to make adjustments so you can all become more prayerful. Busy parents need their spouse or older children to help them find time for prayer. Can you do tag-team mental prayer in the evenings and on weekends? Put a sibling in charge of little ones? Make use of a toddler’s nap time? Pray while nursing the baby?

How about visiting an adoration chapel during your lunch break or just before or after work? Working closer to home so your commute is shorter? Making simpler meals? Assigning more chores to the kids? Being satisfied with a slightly messy house?

Prayer takes sacrifice. It is a battle. It is a race. “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.  Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Cor 9:24-25). The crown of eternal friendship with Jesus is worth your efforts. You will not regret the sacrifice.

And there is no better time to start than today!

Connie Rossini

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Making Prayer Your Top Priority

smartphone, mobile, notepad
smartphone, mobile, notepad
Is prayer on your agenda? (Photo from Pixabay)

In my last post, we saw that the first step in establishing a habit of prayer is making prayer a priority. Today I’d like to go a little further, helping you make prayer your top priority.

We all know the story of Mary and Martha. Jesus and his apostles came to visit the sisters in their home. Martha was busy playing hostess, while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. This annoyed Martha. She complained to the Lord:

“’Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:38-42).

Like us, Martha had many important things to attend to. She wanted to serve Jesus through her activities, a laudable goal. However, Jesus told her that her work was not necessary. The only thing she really needed was to spend time at his feet as Mary was doing. In other words, the only thing she really needed was prayer.

One Thing Needful

Let’s examine the passage more closely. Martha was anxious and troubled. She was so anxious about getting her task done well, she wanted to pull her sister away from prayer to help her. If she had instead spent some time at Jesus’ feet herself, she would have felt her anxiety melt away. She would have learned that prayer helps us put our lives in perspective.

Jesus was not anxious about his dinner. After all, he had fed 5000 people with five loaves and two fish. He could supply all his needs and Martha’s as well. He did not need Martha to spend all day in the kitchen for him. A simple meal would have sufficed.

Martha did have one gift that only she could give Jesus. That gift was her heart. The “one thing needful” was the one thing that no one else in history could supply. Jesus reserved a place for Martha by his side. Until she set aside her important tasks, that seat would remain empty.

Jesus does not need our work, any more than he needed Martha’s. Whatever we need to get done, from executing a major contract to caring for the kids to preaching the Gospel, Jesus will provide time for, if only we will provide time for him. We need to invite him into our lives. If we make him the top priority, he will help us fulfill our duty.

Prayer and Work (in that order)

The Catechism says, “Prayer is a vital necessity” (no. 2744). It goes on to proclaim, “Prayer and Christian life are inseparable, for they concern the same love and the same renunciation, proceeding from love; the same filial and loving conformity with the Father’s plan of love; the same transforming union in the Holy Spirit who conforms us more and more to Christ Jesus; the same love for all men, the love with which Jesus has loved us” (no 2745).

We cannot serve God faithfully without loving him fully. And we cannot love him fully without spending time at his feet in daily prayer.

Even Jesus went aside from his work of spreading the Good News to spend quiet time in prayer. His work was the most important of all. He was God the Son. Yet he always made time to pray. He showed us that prayer is truly the one thing necessary.

How about you? Are you ready to make prayer your top priority? If so, I’d like to help you. Subscribe to Contemplative Homeschool to receive posts on prayer every few weeks. If you’re already a subscriber, share this post on social media or by email with someone who could benefit. God reward you!

Connie Rossini

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Prayer is a Battle

ancient antique armor armour
ancient antique armor armour
Photo by Maria Pop on

The Catechism tells us that “prayer is a battle,” and, “The ‘spiritual battle’ of the Christian’s new life is inseparable from the battle of prayer” (no. 2725). We do not expect battles to be easy or consoling. We expect them to be dangerous and difficult. Of course, prayer is sometimes consoling, and it leads to abiding peace and joy. But before we experience that peace and joy, we have to fight against ourselves, the pull of the world, and the Devil. We cannot triumph before we take up the sword.

The Catechism goes on to say,

“In the battle of prayer, we must face in ourselves and around us erroneous notions of prayer. Some people view prayer as a simple psychological activity, others as an effort of concentration to reach a mental void. Still others reduce prayer to ritual words and postures” (2726).

The first skirmish is understanding what prayer is. We have covered that in the last few posts, noting that prayer is at heart a conversation with God.

The same paragraph of the Catechism says,

“Many Christians unconsciously regard prayer as an occupation that is incompatible with all the other things they have to do: they ‘don’t have the time’.”

We might suppose, then, that our next battle is carving out time for prayer. I believe something else must come first, however.

What are your priorities?

Once when talking to an acquaintance who was a college professor, I asked him what he had been reading lately. He replied, “I don’t have time to read.” No doubt he was busy. But my thought then and now was, You really mean that reading is not one of your priorities. I have always loved reading. No matter how busy I have been, from working three jobs to caring for an infant, I have always made time to read.

We can apply this to prayer. If your first reaction to the thought of starting a prayer routine is, “I don’t have the time,” aren’t you saying that you think other things more important? Don’t get me wrong. I understand that you are busy. I am busy too. But can you be too busy for God? If you wanted to spend time regularly with your spouse, but were always told, “Sorry, I’m just too busy,” that would not be a good sign for your marriage. In a healthy marriage, spouses make spending time together a priority. So it is in a healthy relationship with God.

Too busy, or not interested?

Rarely is anyone too busy to eat. We attempt to get adequate sleep no matter how full our schedule is. We make time for whatever is most important to us.

Our next battle, then, is to embrace the importance of prayer, to make it a priority. If it is one of our top priorities, we will somehow find the time to pray regularly.

We know we cannot live a healthy life without enough food and sleep. The truth is that without daily prayer we cannot have a healthy spiritual life. And spiritual health is even more important than physical health. When we recognize and embrace this truth, we will no more skip praying than we will skip eating or sleeping.

Prayer is a battle. It requires fighting the mindset of the world that other tasks are more important. Until we conquer this mindset, we will never be faithful in prayer. Next time, then, we will examine why daily prayer is vital to spiritual health.

Connie Rossini

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Time alone with God

Do you have a dedicated time and place for mental prayer? (Photo from Pixabay.)
Do you have a dedicated time and place for mental prayer? (Photo from Pixabay.)

My Prairie Catholic column for November.

When did you last spend time alone with God? Do you have a daily prayer routine? If not, how and why should you start one?

Sometimes people tell me that they do not have a set prayer time. Instead, they try to pray throughout the day. Praying throughout the day is an important part of growing closer to God, “But we cannot pray ‘at all times’ if we do not pray at specific times, consciously willing it” (CCC 2697). Without these anchors of prayer, praying throughout the day may be no more than a wish.

Don’t be too busy for the one thing necessary

Modern life is overcrowded with things we “must” do. Who among us would not describe himself as “too busy”? How can we possibly take time out to pray?

St. Francis de Sales wrote, “Prayer…is so useful and necessary that without it we could not come to any good, seeing that by means of prayer we are shown how to perform all our actions well” (Sermons on Prayer). Instead of seeing prayer as an interruption to our actions, we should view it as the power source for performing those actions in accordance with God’s will.

Our life in Christ begins with the sacraments. We attend Mass and receive the Eucharist on Sunday, in which Jesus nourishes us with his Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. From Sunday to Sunday, prayer helps us remain in God’s grace. It keeps our eyes fixed on him and prepares us for an even more fruitful communion the next week.

Where do you start?

God does not demand that we begin with an hour of daily prayer. Fifteen minutes will do to start. Surely we can find a spare fifteen minutes! Can we set the alarm fifteen minutes earlier, skip watching the evening news, or put aside our cell phones for a bit? How about having the whole family pray or read quietly at the same time every day?

Praying at a consistent time and place helps us form a habit. Every new habit is hard to establish. Yet after just a few weeks of effort, we wonder why we waited so long. Soon praying becomes as necessary to our routine as eating. We learn to cherish those moments alone with the Savior.

As we pray more often, we become more sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s guidance throughout our day. We check ourselves before gossip passes our lips. We say “thank you” to the cashier at the grocery store. We have a better attitude at work. We notice when someone else needs a hug. In other words, we become more fully converted. We grow closer to God and to one another.

Intimacy with God

God wants to have an intimate relationship with each of us, more intimate than that of a human husband and wife. Prayer is a communion with God that grows ever closer, strengthened by the sacraments and virtuous living. In other words, the sacraments, prayer, and our choices outside of prayer reinforce and support one another. Remove any one of the three, and our relationship with God grows cold.

“Prayer is a vital necessity. Proof from the contrary is no less convincing: if we do not allow the Spirit to lead us, we fall back into the slavery of sin” (CCC 2744). Let us all commit ourselves to be more constant and attentive in prayer. Prayer will transform us and enable us to help transform the world.

Connie Rossini