There are days when I completely forget to pray. Well, really, to be honest, I don't forget but I neglect my prayer life. I look into the day before me and see so many things that need done and reason to myself that I don't have time for prayer. I lie to God and myself by resolving to pray later when I have a free moment or tomorrow when things slow down. That tomorrow never comes.
Today's Gospel reminds me of the need for balance in my life. It reminds me that all work and no prayer makes Jim a dull boy, spiritually dull. On the other hand, all prayer and no work makes Jim a dull boy as well, dull to the needs of others, dull to charity.
The reason that Our Lord holds up Mary as an example of a disciple is not because she was lazy and only wanted to pray and listen. She is honored for her choice because He was her first choice. She put off the work for a little while to converse and listen to God. This could only result in her work being done out of love for Him later on. I like the question Fr. Mike Schmitz asks, "Is Jesus a part of your life or the heart of your life?"
My goal is to find the balance between work and prayer. What would be even better would be for me to work at finding time for contemplative prayer so that my prayer would flow over into my work and sanctify it. God does not want me to imitate Martha to the exclusion of Mary nor to imitate Mary to the exclusion of Martha. Mary chose the better part first and then moved on to what needed to be done. Martha worked at fixing the meal while Mary feasted on the words of Our Lord and this feast would not be taken from her.
Lord Jesus, I have been raised in a culture that sees productivity as the highest form of accomplishment. Yet, You ask me, "What does it profit a man [me] to gain the world and lose his soul?" Lord, help me to see what is truly important in my work. Give me the grace to distinguish between necessary work and busy work. Give me the strength to stop making new work for myself and spend that time with You. Pour out Your grace upon me so that I may choose You first. In doing so, I know that my work will be blessed.
FROM THE SAINTS - "You should maintain throughout the day a constant conversation with Our Lord, a conversation fed even by the things that happen in you professional work. Go in spirit to the tabernacle...and offer to God the work that is in your hands." -Saint Josemaria Escriva The Forge 745
How to get better at prayer.
- Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
- Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go. Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
- Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days. Mark off the days on your calendar. If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
- Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him. I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development. God is the same way. Spend time praying as best you can. Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation. Don't forget to listen
- Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life. It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
- Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer Primer, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, Time for God, The Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.
* Contains affiliate links. No, that doesn't mean that the kids should leave the room. Rather, it means that if you click on a link, and if you purchase something, I may get some financial remuneration for that click and buy. All that means is that my kids will finally get to eat, just kidding but I may get something, just so you know...