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?
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!