October is a month in which we like to examine how we’ve utilized our gifts of time, talent, and treasure in serving God and others over the past year and decide how we might commit to growth in the coming year. Last year, you may recall, we filled out commitment forms detailing how we might be better Christian stewards in the coming year. Needless to say, the year did not go as any of us planned and it very likely impacted the commitments we made.
It is important to note that circumstances in life can always change, at any time, for any reason. Loss of employment, loss of a loved one, illness, and unexpected bills are all examples of things that can get lobbed at us, throwing us off course. Not one of us is promised anything in this life, particularly stability. Life is constantly in flux because that’s the nature of it. That being said, we can still plan, while remaining flexible and trusting that God has everything under control.
So let’s take a closer look at our first gift in Christian stewardship, which is time. I’m sure many of us intended to increase our gift of time this year – time with loved ones, time spent on parish activities, time with an extra daily Mass per week, or time spent in Adoration. However, those intentions most likely did not pan out the way we had hoped. We may be disappointed in how our time was greatly affected this year, but we must not despair because there is one very important way we can always spend our time, which can very rarely be thwarted if we remain intentional and vigilant, and that is time in prayer. Here is what the Catechism has to say about our ability to pray through all things: It is always possible to pray: The time of the Christian is that of the risen Christ who is with us always, no matter what tempests may arise. Our time is in the hands of God: “It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop … while buying or selling … or even while cooking.” – St. John Chrysostom (CCC #2743).
While it may seem obvious that, in tough times, one should pray more rather than less, I can tell you from personal experience that the troubles of 2020 greatly affected my prayer life in a negative way. I had grown accustomed and comfortable in a prayer routine, which involved me waking up long before my children to pray for at least an hour or two before waking them and driving them to school and then going about the rest of my day. With all of the COVID-19 restrictions and other external circumstances in my life, sadly, my prayer life was one of the first things to suffer. Additionally, losing my weekly hour in Adoration was a difficult blow to my spiritual life. It is not as if I didn’t pray, because I did every day, but the intentionality and zeal lessened. What’s more, I could feel the difference and it did not feel good at all. In recent months, I have had to re-commit to my time in focused and intentional prayer. I have had to accept the changes in my life and learn to be creative and flexible in finding new ways to spend time with my Lord. I have had to learn how to invite Him into my life as it is right now, in this moment. I am happy to report that the renewed energy and focus in my prayer life has already brought about the most beautiful fruits! Satan tries to throw us off course every day by whispering the lie “You don’t have time,” into our ears. It is up to us to reject him and his lies and turn to God who is the giver of the gift of time.
You see, our Lord yearns for us to come to Him in prayer. He calls us each by name (Is 43:1) and invites us into relationship with Him. Where there is no communication, there is no relationship. However, God will not force us into a relationship with Him, because if He did, it would not be a relationship of authentic love. We have to make time for Him because we love Him and we want Him to transform us and our lives. Are you responding to His invitation by seeking out more and more time to spend with Him, or are you giving credence to the lie that you do not have the time?
With regard to spending time in prayer as it relates to Christian stewardship, our time spent in prayer is what powers our ability to do everything else we do. Prior to His ascension, Jesus tells His apostles in His great commission, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Mt. 28:19). That is a command to which we are all called. If we are true disciples and our faith is alive, we cannot remain idle. We must go out as disciples and inspire others to discipleship as well. That is our mission. However, do you think the original disciples could have even begun to carry out this mission without prayer? Had they relied on their own human abilities without constantly turning to God in prayer, Christianity would have fizzled out before it even began.
We have evidence of this link between prayer and discipleship in the Acts of the Apostles. After Jesus ascended to heaven, the apostles were lost, afraid, and did not know how to proceed. It was presumably a very scary time for them. They all gathered, along with Mary, the mother of Jesus, in the upper room to pray together (Acts 1:13). It was all they could do in a moment of uncertainty and they faithfully did so for nine days (the first novena!). The result of that committed, intentional, focused time in prayer was the descent of the Holy Spirit and the birth of the Church on Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). Immediately following the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter went out to preach and converted 3,000 people that very day (Acts 2:14-41)! The apostles were given a mission to make disciples and they did, but it was only possible through their faithful prayer, which allowed for God’s transforming grace to enter in and do the work. You, too, are invited to share in this mission of discipleship, but you cannot do it on your own. You need to begin or deepen your loving, communicative relationship with God to fulfill that mission.
As you reflect on how you might re-commit the use of your gift of time in the coming year, perhaps nervous about being unprepared for any changes that may arise, can you focus on how you might increase your time spent in prayer? Perhaps you have a great prayer life already. Is there room for even more? Can you change how intentional you are in your prayer life and find a way to avoid distraction? Perhaps you could just create more consistency in your prayer life if you tend to be more sporadic? The result of deepening your prayer life can only be good and will help sustain you for your personal mission in discipleship.BACK TO LIST