We know that prayer is integral to our lives and faith. As a Catholic sister, I set aside time in the morning and evening in order to be quiet and be open to listening to and talking with God. But sometimes I just don’t seem to have the time for it.
Take today, for example. I woke up thinking about all the things I have to do today, including a couple of past-due deadlines, an email inbox that is overflowing, a meeting to prepare for and participate in, errands, and a podcast.
Needless to say, I was stressed before I even got out of bed. To make matters worse, we’re low on coffee!
My instinct is to hop out of bed, turn the computer on, and get to work. And that’s exactly what I did this morning. I barely registered the fact that I was jumping over my time for prayer (yes, it happens to us religious folk, too). Now, having knocked a few things off my list (but with plenty left to do), I’m feeling less stressed but also less myself.
True, prayer doesn’t get me any closer to finishing these tasks. In fact, it appears to pull me further away because that’s precious time and energy I could place elsewhere. Yet prayer can’t be reduced to an item on an agenda, a “to-do” that can be checked off. It’s the very soul of life, the rhythm of one’s day, the disposition that one brings to everyone and everything else.
When I take time for prayer — whether it's an hour to open and close the day, a quick heartfelt check-in with God, or a day of retreat — I am tending to the most important relationship of my life; I feel at once more myself, more grounded in the Source of my life, and more tuned in to the people and world around me. These moments of prayer allow me to make my whole day, and indeed my whole life, a prayer such that I can have a prayerful openness throughout the day.
I know God understands and is not mad or planning to smite me when I am not the perfect pray-er. At the same time, I know and feel its importance in my relationship with God, with myself, and with others. Even though I’m in work mode now, and in the middle of a time-sensitive project, I’m going to set the timer so that in 30 minutes I can take a break knowing that a few crucial details have been taken care of. When the timer goes off, I will return to my time for prayer so that I can be fully present and open to God and to the rest of the day.
Ever had one of these days? What helps you return to prayer and a “prayerful openness”?
This blog post was originally published on A Nun’s Life Ministry.