When it comes to prayer, this can be a difficult question to answer. In fact, feeling like it’s an impossible challenge can actually discourage us from praying because we feel like the prayer life we want/Jesus deserves is such a lofty & impossible goal to reach, that it’s just not worth even taking those first few steps towards a finish line that we’ll never possibly reach anyways. But a life like that will never satisfy, so bust out your best motivational anthem, and start putting one foot in front of the other!
The standards seem to be set pretty high. In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 St. Paul asks us to “Pray without ceasing.” Maybe St. Paul had time to do that but he clearly didn’t have homework or soccer practice or chores or friends or a snap streak to keep up…right? There’s no question that life in our current world is busy. There are endless options for ways to occupy your time. It’s simply not possible to do everything…which means we often find ourselves not doing anything. Overwhelmed with options, we default to a passive position in our world where we simply meet only what is most demanding of our attention at that moment. When we lose our intentionality, we lose our opportunity to pray.
St. Francis de Sales is often credited with the quote, “Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy—then we need an hour.” How does that make sense that the busier we are, the more time we should take to step away and pray? It’s because Jesus is bigger than math. Read the scriptures and we’ll see that Jesus continuously defies math. How did 2 fish and 5 loaves feed thousands? (Matthew 14:17) How is the Trinity 3 persons but 1 God? (John 14) How do 2 people become 1 flesh in marriage? (Mark 10:8) If Jesus can heal the blind and raise the dead, doesn’t it also make sense that he can bless your time and help all things to work for His Glory in your life? Sometimes it seems that Jesus defies logic, but what we have to see with faith, is that the logic of God is above our limited humanity. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, my thoughts higher than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8) To commit to prayer means that we entrust God to be the Lord of our time, even down to the minutes and seconds of our days.
Too often, when I ask someone how their prayer life is going, they tell me things in terms of tasks or time. “I read scripture every day.” “I haven’t missed Sunday mass in months.” “I pray every night before bed.” While these things are good, they miss the heart of prayer. Instead of asking ourselves if we’re praying enough, what if we periodically asked ourselves (and each other) things like…
- “What has the Lord been talking to me about lately?”
- “What is Jesus asking me to do?/What am I asking Jesus to do?”
- “What is God working on/healing/blessing in my life?”
These are the questions that will help us move beyond the guilt of feeling like we don’t pray enough, and helping us to see prayer as the oxygen to our souls.
How do you know if you’re praying enough? My personal answer is simple, when you begin to crave prayer. If you’re able to go to prayer in the chapel, in your day, in your heart and when you have to leave or move on to something else, you have a desire to stay, you’re praying enough. If your heart is able to enjoy those moments of contentment and peace and desires more of them, you’re praying enough. If you go to prayer and have to force yourself to stay, that’s not necessarily bad, it just means you need more. So continue to will yourself to stay in prayer. Soon, you’ll find your appetite for it growing. Not hungering for prayer is a sign that you’re not praying enough. Keep fighting the good fight and carving time for Jesus in your days. Any moment with Jesus is a moment well spent.
Know that you’re being prayed for always.
For the Lord,