The most common excuse for not praying is the same one for not exercising, “I don’t have the time.”
And we here exercise gurus say all the time, “You can’t make 30 minutes?” But no one seems to be saying that loudly or loudly enough about prayer.
Prayer is one of those things that requires you stop everything you are doing to do it effectively. But you can’t do it effectively if you do not make the time. And no, writing it on your schedule is not lame, if that’s what it takes. Or setting an alarm on your phone. But prayer, regular prayer, is always needed. But what about the pesky time issues?
One of the things we pray for in my BSF classes is that God will stretch our time for Him. That if we ask Him, He will show us the pockets of time for regular prayer, Bible study and other forms of worship. It still requires the effort and commitment on our parts but it is stretched appropriately when asked of God.
In using an example from my own life that is timely, Christmas, the time we celebrate Christ’s birth, prayer somehow easily gets pushed to most of our back burners. I will admit, I struggled over the holiday break with the kids home and Jeff home and visits to various relatives and the like. And then I was stopped dead where I was when the doctor told me Joseph had pneumonia. Every four hours, like clockwork, he had to have those breathing treatments. And that meant overnight too. And as I sat up with him at 3:30 AM, it occurred to me, God’s given me this time. He has given me this time to spend with my son and also with His son. And I took that time to pray Morning Prayer each morning.
I will admit though, when I was able to stop those breathing treatments, while it was great to get the sleep I so desperately needed and it was even better my son could breathe, I worried about losing that time.
But I knew how desperately I needed it. So, how does one make the time? Besides just asking in prayer for it from God?
One thing I have found helpful is to commit to those prayers said at a traditional time each day. The Angelus at 6 AM, 12 noon or 6 PM (or if you’re an overacheiver, all three) or the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3 PM (or 3 AM).
Another helpful idea, I’ve found, is to focus on how you pray. Our BSF teaching leader recommends that we pray outloud and on our knees. Which I know personally, helps block out distractions like facebook notifications. And once you’ve determined how is best for you, it may help to realize a time when that is most convenient/easily done. For many women I know, it means hauling yourself out of bed in the early morning before anyone else is up.
But then, “what to pray.” When all else fails, pray as Jesus taught you and say “The Lord’s Prayer.” If you find yourself up early in the morning, try the Divine Office. Morning Prayer centers my day and it prays the Psalms. For me, it’s a twofer, Bible Study and prayer. Of course there are devotions like Morning Offering and the Rosary. But it never has to be anything formal. And sometimes prayer is just listening, so it’s okay to do that too. And, for many, a prayer journal is helpful. Including requests and when they are fulfilled putting a “P” for praise next to them.
For all the New Years Resolutions we make about losing weight, or starting a new hobby, or breaking a bad habit…we all should be resolving to pray more and ask for God to help us make the time to pray daily.