Aleteia

How to add 20 extra minutes to your day for prayer

WOMAN SMILE
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It’s not that we don’t want to pray, it’s that we always feel short of time.

“Let’s all say a little prayer.” How many times have I heard this ritual incantation, especially at the end of our parish, liturgical, and other meetings? I’ve probably said it myself on more than one occasion. The intention is a noble one, but the way it’s formulated is horrible. Poor God, who must content Himself with crumbs from our busy schedule. He comes after everything else. We have spent our day dealing with our business, including our religious engagements, and at the moment when the only thing we wish for is to go to bed, we accord one last thought to the one we call our “Lord,” although his ascendency over our lives is rather relative. 

Give God at least 1% of your time

I don’t think we can live according to the design of God and in His grace if we spend less than 20 minutes a day in his company. Is it too much to ask? If my calculations are good, this represents 1% of our time. Don’t we love our children, our spouse, and our parents? Is it enough to think about them from time to time in the course of the day? If we wish to spend time together, we need to make time for it.

In the name of spontaneity and sincerity, we have to develop some habits. In our personal, family, social, and ecclesiastical life, we constantly improvise and feel deeply dissatisfied. It is a triumph of mediocrity, and as Pope Benedict XVI used to say, a dictatorship of relativism. Obviously, we should never make a mistake of shutting ourselves up in formalism and scruples. But he who wills the ends wills the means. Do we have the actual will or a vague inclination to pray?

How to find those available 20 minutes

The first thing to do is to find these 20 minutes a day: get up earlier, go to bed later, or sacrifice some time that you normally do something else. I do not advise finding a time slot in the end of the day for prayer – but if this is your best time of day, carve out time before you go to bed.

Similarly, this time should not be replaced by Mass or communal prayer, or praying with children. These things are excellent, but they don’t erase the rules established by our Master: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your father, who is unseen” (Mtt 6:6).

Father Alain Bandelier