Q: Dear Father Joseph, I pray frequently on a daily basis. I constantly talk to God during my work. However, a friend recently told me that I should also be spending dedicated time on a daily basis for prayer. Is this really necessary if I already pray as I mentioned? Isn’t it enough that I regularly talk to God at work?
A: Maybe we have to approach this question from a different angle: if you love someone, how much time should you spend with them?
Love knows no “necessity” and is ignorant of the word “enough”. Love is pure generosity and self-giving. Instead of asking if what you already are praying is “enough” and if it is “necessary” to do anything else, ask yourself what you need to do to maintain your love for God living and fresh. There is no one set answer. God moves each soul according to its possibilities.
That said, it is very laudable to pray constantly and to talk with God throughout the day. In a world filled with so much noise, this takes a lot of effort – an effort few are willing to give. It is very important to remember that we are temples of the Holy Spirit, that the Holy Trinity resides within us (when we are in a state of grace) and that He is always speaking to us. To pray, to lift our mind and heart to him often, will make of God a best friend and companion. I recommend that you never lose this habit and even intensify it if you can. Our Lord has blessed you with a wonderful grace.
Setting time aside for prayer in a quiet place is also important because it allows us to go deeper in our relationship. What couple doesn’t need and long for quality time to be alone with each other? The same is true for our relationship with Christ. And remember, he himself reminded us in the Gospel that when we pray, we should go into our room and shut the door and pray. We need to shut out the din created by worries and distractions of our busy lives and concentrate only on Him.
With that said, I think a simple answer to your question would be, if you can manage it, then please do make some time to be alone with Christ in a silent place. But, don’t feel any pressure. Do whatever you can and whatever you feel in your heart that Christ is asking you to do. Speak to Christ directly. Ask him what he thinks.
A brother or a nun has ample time during the day for these quiet times. Depending on the spirit of the congregation, it could be anywhere from one hour to ten. An active mom with several small children might not be able to find more than a few minutes a day.
Whatever time you decide on in the end, remember that Christ is very happy with any time that you give him and that for every step we take towards him, he takes many more toward us.
Yours In Christ, Father Joseph Burtka, LC
PS from Dan: For ideas on how to continue to build your life of prayer, check out “Igniting the Fire Within” by Fr. Thomas Dubay.