|Busy Person's Retreat|
Part 6. How and When Do You Pray?
Eleanor Lincoln, CSJ, and Catherine Litecky, CSJ
Women at the Well Ministry, St. Paul, Minnesota ©2004
Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing.
In all circumstances give thanks,
for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
How and when do you pray?
So far in this Busy Person's Retreat you have been praying every day!
your prayer and reflection on how you use time you may have discovered
a rhythm to help you live more attentively and loving.
You may have found the blessings of each day as part of your prayer.
You have tried to show increasing love to your family, friends, and neighbors?
Your work may have become more life-giving to yourself and to others.
You may have been delighting in the realization that God has created you and sustains you in life?
as you are, during this Retreat you have been attempting to find God in
your life. In this part of the Retreat you will find more specific
helps for your prayer life.
Prayer is a loving attitude toward
God and others. Praying is not part of living but all of living--if
your mind and heart are always open to God's grace and blessing. If you
realize that prayer is more than the saying of set prayers, you can
pray "without ceasing."
As you know, formal vocal prayers are
part of the prayer life of all people of faith. You probably learned to
say vocal prayers as a child in your family. And you probably continue
to pray formal prayers in your private prayer times and in community
worship. The greatest of Christian prayers is the prayer Jesus taught
to his disciples, the "Our Father." Regular formal prayer is an
essential part of the life of all who seek to love and grow closer to
God and neighbor.
be your answers to these questions? How and when do you pray? What is
your rhythm of formal prayer during the day or during the week? Think
about when and where you spend time in formal prayer.
what about praying "without ceasing"? How is this possible? Praying
without ceasing does not mean saying prayers, but rather trying to live
in the presence of God no matter what else you are doing.
apostle Paul in the passage quoted above is suggesting praying day and
night, in joy and sorrow, at work and at play, without intermission or
breaks. For Paul prayer is not part of his thought but all of his
thought, not part of his feeling and emotions but all of them. This is
radical! How can you live your life with its demands and obligations as
an uninterrupted prayer? What about the endless distractions that
intrude on you at all times? How can your sleep, your re-creation, your
work be lifted into unceasing prayer?
A popular writer about
prayer, beloved Henri Nouwen, writes, "To pray, I think, does not
primarily mean to think about God in contrast to thinking about other
things, or to spend time with God instead of spending time with other
people. Rather it means to think and live in the presence of God"
(America, August 5, 1978, p.48).
St. Teresa of Avila, a great
mystic and teacher of prayer who lived centuries before Henri Nouwen,
speaks of prayer as a conversation with a friend who loves her, the God
who loves her. For you too such prayer moves you away from your own
distractions and direct all that is yours to God in simple trust and
Some people have the
great good fortune to have a soul-friend with whom they can converse on
anything that affects their life. Not everyone is so blessed, but God's
love of everyone makes possible this conversation with God as a loving
Take a few minutes now to talk to God about what concerns you at this moment.
this Retreat remember that God is your friend. You are always in God's
presence. In the language of today's technology God's cell phone is
always turned on and God knows your number! What is God saying to you
Today try to be open to a dimension of reality beyond
your five senses and the material world. Put your love in action
remembering to respect yourself and to have a loving regard for
everyone you meet. This includes having a "passion for justice" for the
suffering people you hear about from TV or the newspaper.
you watch the TV news tonight, let peace and compassion be in your
heart for all those you hear about. A Buddhist practice is to extend
your peace to the whole world. This is a practice worth cultivating
into a habit. Instead of being angered or frustrated by what you hear,
you will be living the news with compassions and peace in your heart.
point is that prayer is a relationship, an attitude, and not a matter
to time spent. In an article entitled "Wasting Time with God,"
(Weavings, March/April 1999) Marjorie Thompson, an ordained
Presbyterian minister and spiritual director, writes: "I sometimes
wonder if most of us do not live as if time spent with God in prayer
were wasted energy - a superfluous exercise in an already over-exerted
schedule" (p 27).
She continues with reminding her readers that
petitions and intercessions have their place, of course. Didn't Jesus
encourage his friends to ask for what they need? But prayer is more
than an activity for Sunday morning. Rather it is an encounter and
relationship with God involving listening and responding. Such prayer
is a discovering and enjoying companionship with God.
As a busy
person, you may say, "I don't have much time for prayer." But don't you
have time, as you go about your day, to listen to God, to raise your
mind and heart to God's goodness, to say thank you for blessings
received? Prayer means to acknowledge God's presence in your life.
When/how do you do this? These suggestions tie in with other parts of
this Retreat but they relate this time to praying.
waiting time for God. Block out all sounds and sights around you, but
include all the other people waiting in line, as you raise your heart
and mind to God.
Pray in motion. While you are jogging or gardening or washing dishes, remember that God's loving presence surrounds you.
thanks for little blessings. As you drive to work or on errands, tell
yourself the good things that have happened to you in the last 24 hours
and give thanks for them.
Help the traffic. Include the drivers in the next cars as you ask God to bless them with patience and good will.
Take time to be quiet, wherever you are. In silence you can hear what's going on in the deepest part of yourself - where God is.
has this Retreat helped you, as the retreat introduction suggests, "to
get in touch with your true self" and to "find God in daily life"?
Spend some quiet time on how and when you pray.
See if you agree
with these words: "Prayer and life must be all of a piece" (Roberta C.
Bondi, "The Paradox of Prayer," Weavings, March/April 1989. p. 13).
You now may wish to turn to Part 7 of this retreat:
Where Is Your Life Journey Leading You?
| Part 1. How Can You Make Each Day Count?|
Part 2. How Can You Live God's Blessings?
Part 3. How Do You Love Others?
Part 4. What Is Your Attitude toward Work?
Part 5. How Do You Find God in Creation--and Re-creation?
Part 6. How and When Do You Pray?
Part 7. Where Is Your Life Journey Leading You?