I was very moved by the words of Bishop PJ McGrath (pronounced McGraw) of San Jose last week. I got to be a "fly on the wall" while he addressed the priests and deacons of his diocese. And I'll paraphrase what he said here about prayer:
"I thought that prayer would come naturally to me as a priest. And I was very disappointed that it didn't always occur to me to pray each day. And it wasn't because I was avoiding prayer or even choosing something "bad" instead. In fact, often I was "choosing the good." There are so many good things that we do in our church and in our individual ministries that we can very easily let prayer slip our minds as busy people. But I'd like to implore you to pray--to be priests and deacons of prayer. To choose the good that we do and to not pray makes us enlightened social workers at best--and we are different. We are people of Christ. While I was disappointed that prayer didn't come naturally to me as priest, nor has it as a Bishop, I realized that I needed to remind myself to pray. So I began a process of scheduling prayer each day and since my young priesthood I have made a habit of scheduling prayer--of making it a priority to pray. I realize that I have to do that, or I'll get carried away with doing other things that are good, and forgetting to reflect on that and spend time with God contemplating on those good things in prayer and reading God's word."
Indeed. I have the same problem. I don't choose something bad most often but begin to choose "good works" over prayer and in essence we need both in our Christian life.
So I am going to ask a favor of my blogging friends and of our posters. Let us all spend at least one post a day on our prayers. This need not be lengthy but simply post one prayer or a song or a reflection on something that we can offer to God as opposed to commenting on the news or on matters of work or recreation. So I'm going to ask that you keep me honest and rip me when I don't pray on this blog each day. "Hey what happened? No prayer today?" I would appreciate it.
I hope we have at least one other time where we pray in an "off-line" way. For myself, I do try to pray with my wife once a day but we're honestly not the best at keeping to the schedule of prayer. I pray before lunch each day with sacredspace.ie and also with the daily readings and when I can, I do try to make it to daily mass--but I'm not the best at that either to be honest.
Our time is of the essence and should be well spent. So what better post could there be for a blog about God than a brief (or not so brief) prayer?
No time like the present to start:
Lord, today I feel down and disappointed with myself and have forgotten that it is you who are leading me in the path of ministry and life. Help me to be more mindful of your presence in my life especially when I feel like I am lacking direction--as I have felt of late--in all that I do. Make me more mindful of the people who support me and help me be able to see that support when I have the tendency to mistake or misconstrue support as advice, competition, or criticism.
Lead me where you will have me go and I will go as your humble servant. Allow me to be an instrument of your inspiring love and to be joyful in all that I do. Make me a better husband to my wife and help me care for her needs when I grow weary or when I selfishly care only for myself. Make me a better son to my parents, especially to my mother who is presently ill and hospitalized. Guide her doctors to heal what ails her and when you call her home, help me accept that separation with faith in your mercy and love.
Most of all Lord, remember those who go without, who have nobody to help them, nobody to pray for them or with them. May my prayer tonight be not only for me but for all of those who have little hope of prayers for them from others--for you remember all people, especially the poor and the suffering.
I pray this today...in the name of your son, Jesus. Amen.