. . . write this post, frankly. What can I say? I’ve got a lot on my plate! Between 15 credits of courses that require a lot of reading and writing, teaching two confirmation classes, the fraternal prayer and meal schedule, starting up JPIC (Justice Peace and Integrity of Creation) events in the house, an ever-increasing list of speaking opportunities, and a host of other things I hope to do this year to keep me a healthy, sane, and social person, there’s very little time to spare. It would be very easy for me to become overwhelmed, defeated, or even cut a few things out.
The fact of the matter is that there still is time to do many things. There is always time. What there usually is not is the ability to prioritize effectively and the perseverance to keep going when things are difficult or no longer interesting. When I fail to do these things, no amount of time in the world could ever suffice to do everything I need to do. Without these two things, apathy seeks in and even the important things lose meaning.
When people struggle to make ends meet, most will choose to cut the food or personal care budget rather than miss a mortgage or car payment, because as they see it, the mortgage and car payment has to be paid whereas food and personal care are a bit more flexible; no one is going to penalize them for not eating. These people, and there are many among us, are able to maintain the structures of their lives, but are ultimately left insufficiently nourished.
For us in religious life, or more inclusively, all who profess to be Christian, prayer is often the first thing cut for the same reason: school, work, finances, and friends often bring about obvious penalties if neglected, whereas prayer does not. As a result, just as in the case of the person struggling to make ends meet, we are able to maintain the structures of our lives, but are ultimately left insufficiently nourished.
One friar in our house often says, “Prayer must always remain a priority. Like meals, school work, exercise, and fraternity time, it needs to be set in the schedule for thirty minutes each day so as to not be neglected.” This is quite obvious and makes perfect sense: if time is set out during the day, no matter what, for something like exercise, shouldn’t prayer be as well. But that’s not the end of it: “And in times when you’re busy, those times when you’re overwhelmed and can’t imagine how you’re going to get through it all, make it an hour.” How contradictory to the way most of us normally act! And yet, how true! What is it that’s going to keep us going? What is it that nourishes us? What is it that gives us meaning and reminds us why? It is relationship with God. It is prayer. In times of great struggle, even when there is little time to spare, a little prayer can go a long way.
For me, I find myself spending my entire day working directly and indirectly for God. Whether it’s studying so as to be an ordained minister in the future, directly serving to the people of God through ministry opportunities, spending time with the fraternity, or taking care of my mind and body through exercise and social opportunities, I find myself very busy for God’s sake. But is that all God wants, to spend my time doing things for God? I don’t think so. If a relationship is predicated solely on doing things for another, never doing things with another, all one would be left with is an impersonal agreement of benefits among acquaintances. I dare say: this may not even be a relationship at all. I must always remind myself of this fact. Even though I find myself busy doing God’s work and training myself to do it even better in the future, too busy to do much more than I’m already doing, I cannot say that I am truly in a relationship unless I take the time to actually pray, that is, spend quality time with God.
There is always time for prayer. Always. I may be too busy to do everything I could ever dream of doing, but I know for sure that I am not too busy to pray.