Every one of us needs half an hour of prayer every day, except when we are busy – then we need an hour.
I was challenged recently by this quote attributed to St Francis de Sales, feeling protective over my time and energy levels. New job, new city, new friends: it all felt a lot and finding time for prayer was difficult.
Taking a step back, I realised I was waiting to be a little less busy. I believed that this would let me get back into my #morningroutine. In my head this was an aesthetic devout masterpiece that would look great on an Instagram story. Until I was ready to commit to that I wasn’t really going to commit to anything.
For a few months I fumbled through, waiting for the perfect moment. Of course, that didn’t come. Whenever I tried to release myself from commitments and slow down, new things popped up to fill my time. Gradually, I’ve understood that my prayer life will only revive if I have some humility.
Here are a few things I’ve learned while trying to come back to a life of consistent communication with the Lord:
Don’t hold on to what you think prayer should be.
In all the talks I’ve listened to, the consistent message was to take half an hour of silent prayer with God every morning. But while this is good advice, it’s not the only way to pray.
Holiness consists of responding to what God is asking of us, not of us just doing what we think is holy.
There are many ways to pray but we can often trap ourselves in the thought that only certain formulas are the ‘right way’. The best way to pray is any which authentically leads you to grow in holiness.
Small habits change big habits.
It was hard for me to accept that short times of prayer were worth it and whether they really meant anything to the Lord. However, learning to make little offerings massively increased my desire to make bigger commitments. Accepting that pride held me back was a strong foundation for doing more.
Trust what God can do with your sacrifice.
I was very reluctant to give up sleep in the morning and evening, or to go home from commitments sooner, in order to pray. It felt like an encroachment of what little time I already had to myself, and honestly I didn’t want to give that over. God can have my life, but only in my time.
After wrestling with this obvious contradiction, I knew I needed to loosen my grip and give back to God some of the time that he had graciously given me. I then got to see the sweet mystery of God’s love.
The more time I gave over to him, the more time I felt I had in every other aspect of my life: work, seeing friends, doing things I enjoyed. It all just required letting go of what I felt I had to control and protect.
All this has helped me see that prayer is not something you save until you’ve constructed a perfect life. Rather it helps brings human life into perfection, and while on that journey God continues to bless us. For my part, I’ll keep asking for the grace to loosen my grip and receive what he has to offer.
Daisy currently works for a London based think tank on UK policy. She is a trustee for the Catholic Student Network and currently lives in Twickenham at the Loretto HOME. Get in touch with her at firstname.lastname@example.org For more on the Catholic Student Network, go to https://www.catholicstudentnetwork.co.uk/.
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