Saturday, June 20, 2009

Busy Lives Do Not Exempt Us From Prayer

I finished my latest Merton book last night and have a stack of various things waiting for me to pick from now. One of them is a collection of sayings from Mother Teresa on prayer.

Lately I have been trying to be very intentional in allowing God's presence to show itself to me throughout the day, so this quote has particularly stood out to me.

Setting aside proper time for prayer is terribly hard in today's society. It is something that I believe is important, but there are always days where I seem to have woken up later than I had planned, or that quiet time I scheduled in my head never came around because I got lost in the internet etc. These are all the sorts of things I try to tell myself when I simply don't feel like sacrificing some of my free time to pray. What she has to say here is important for those days because it reminds us that we always have opportunities to be prayerful. This is a lot like Brother Lawrence's little book Practicing the Presence of God.

Mother Teresa:

There are some people who, in order not to pray, use as an excuse the fact that life is so hectic that it prevents them from praying.

This cannot be.

Prayer does not demand that we interrupt our work, but that we continue working as if it were a prayer.

It is not necessary to always be meditating, nor to consciously experience the sensation that we are talking to God, no matter how nice this would be. What matters is being with him, living in him, in his will.


Thomas said...

That's a good point. I have read a number of things related to prayer and being busy (Too Busy Not to Pray -Hybels, Ordering your private world -macdonald, and Brother Lawerence). Overall I would say I spent more time reading books on prayer than practicing prayer.

So really I say just do it, forget what people say or how to do it. I saw this and I haven't prayed more than 30 minutes in the past 8 months, but I'd like to believe we can just do it.

rheimbro said...

True, if you are reading about prayer, but that doesn't lead to prayer, then whatever you are reading is going to bear less and less fruit in practice.

Of course we can just do it, but for me, I find that when I have gone long periods of time without a regular prayer life, there is a lot of encouragement to be found in the writings of those who have devoted whole lives to it. It is encouraging to see how much of a long process it is over a person's life and to know that where we are now isn't where we will be in the long run in that dept.

What I think is also important that many of the people I have been reading point out is that they can only point in the direction of what they are trying to express. In practice what God does when he meets us in prayer goes beyond what our words are capable.

But yeah, we cannot live our prayer lives through others, only learn and be encouraged by them in the end.