by The Staff of CATECHIST
As catechists, we are conscientious about daily prayer—“conscientious” in that we want a discipline of daily prayer. We know our special gifts have been called to serve this ministry, we take our mission seriously, and so we are people of prayer.
For many of us, though, our reality is far from a “discipline of daily prayer.” Rather, we find ourselves at the end of a hectic day feeling like we’ve not had a moment to spare. Our brief prayers have been limited to the Mailbox Mumble (“Oh no, Dear God, not the utility bill”), the Parking Lot Plea (“Oh how I pray that soccer practice doesn’t run long this afternoon”), and the Backyard Blessing (“Oh thank you, God, for that kind neighbor who brought my trash cans up from the curb today”).
These, indeed, are genuine prayers due every respect. We lift our minds, hearts, and souls to God right there in the anxious, hope-filled, and grateful moments of our busy days. Pope Benedict XVI encourages the prayer that we raise up in the events of our daily lives, affirming it to be like the prayer of the first Christians:
“We must bring the events of our daily lives into our prayer in order to seek their most profound significance. And we, too, like the first Christian community, allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Word of God and meditating on sacred Scripture, may learn to see that God is present in our lives, even at moments of difficulty, and that everything…is part of a plan of love in which the final victory over evil, sin, and death is truly that of goodness, grace, life, and God” (from a Wednesday General Audience, April 18, 2012).
Yet, there remains a certain longing for more focused prayer—for a discipline of prayer, for time that is dedicated to intimate communion with the Holy. We might even feel a certain pang of discomfort—indeed, longing—when we hear someone say, “During my prayer time this morning…” or “I would never miss my evening prayer.” Oh, sure, we might tend to think that this longing is driven by good old-fashioned guilt. We know we’re supposed to pray and so we want to pray.
But this is a misunderstanding—for that longing is not driven by guilt at all. Our longing to pray is an essential part of the very substance of our souls; we simply are hardwired with a persistent hunger to be intimate with our Creator. Saint Augustine puts it beautifully in his Confessions: “You move us to delight in praising You; for You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”
It would seem then, that the question is: How do we go about finding the time to pray?
Yet this, too, is a misunderstanding. Read and take to heart what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about prayer:
“…[T]he living and true God tirelessly calls each person to that mysterious encounter known as prayer. In prayer, the faithful God’s initiative of love always comes first; our own first step is always a response” (n. 2567).
In other words, our longing is a “hearing,” and our prayer is a response—a response to God’s tireless call to us, to God’s initiative of love that is personal to each one of us. Bearing this in mind, we realize that it’s not about “finding time”; rather, it’s about “responding to an invitation”—responding to God, responding to Love itself. In our most precious human relationships, we would not fail to respond to a loved one who calls to us in any way and for any reason. Love would bring about an immediate response. And so it is with God. If we’re serious about our faith and our relationship with God, we simply cannot not respond. We cannot not pray every day.
As catechists, we are familiar with the many rich forms of prayer in the Catholic tradition. We must take time to review and explore further these forms of prayer and how they might be for us “our own first step” in response to God’s sweet and tireless overture.
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This article was written by the Catechist Staff and appeared in Catechist magazine, July 2013.
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