Paul Catalanotto: Time to pray

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We all know prayer is important, so how can we complain about not having time to pray? PHOTO: CNS, Martin Villar, Reuters

Can’t pray? At least don’t blame a lack of time

I have not met one Christian who believes that prayer is not important. In fact, many Christians complain about not praying enough or not having time to pray, I’ve made the same utterances repeatedly. Time is the issue at hand.

What is time? Like Saint Augustine, I find that I know what time is until someone asks me, “What is time?” I know time is a long walk from finitude to eternity’s front porch. Therefore, time is a non-renewable resource, and where we spend it matters. Furthermore, I know that when we take time to pray or be with another person, it is not mere minutes we give. We gift a piece of our earthly finitude, a bit of our life.

Really, it isn’t time’s fault we don’t pray.  It is our lack of imagination.

Yet, we complain about not having time in our day for those activities we know should be essential: prayer, church, reading scripture, etc. Time is the problem. “If only there was more time in the day. Then I could pray,” we might say to ourselves. As if it is time’s fault that we don’t pray. As if time is preventing us from praying.  As if time has built a wall around our rosaries and chaplets or gagged us so we can’t whisper one Our Father.

So, in man’s ingenuity, we crafted time-saving machines to solve our time problem: dishwashers, washing machines, motor vehicles, and computers.  Yet, we complain about the time-saving devices not saving us enough time to pray.

There are over 86,000 seconds in a day. Still, we complain about not being able to take one second of the day to say, “Thanks God.” Many Catholic writers believe that “Thanks” or “gratitude” is the highest form of thought because the expression of gratitude is a realisation that for what we are thankful is truly a gift.

Man driving
Washing dishes, driving, changing nappies, gardening, sitting in a waiting room, all are opportunities for prayer. PHOTO: Unsplash

Moreover, we complain about something getting in the way of our prayer time, maybe work. Perhaps we are tired and simple acts are now challenging.  Perhaps our children have brought us to the point where we are one “Why?” from a metaphysical meltdown.

Yet, we forget or maybe haven’t realised that saying a simple one-second prayer, “For the love of Jesus”, transform our actions into prayers.  Do the dishes need washing? “For the love of Jesus.”  Does a nappy need changing? “For the love of Jesus.”  Have a meeting with a demanding boss? “For the love of Jesus.”  Really, it isn’t time’s fault we don’t pray.  It is our lack of imagination.

Likewise with Mass.  There are 168 hours in our week. We sleep about 56 hours, if we are lucky, which leaves us with 112 waking hours of our week, even though some of us are awake more than 112 hours a week. Yet, we complain about giving up one hour a week to worship God in Church. We moan and groan over giving up less than one percent of our week.

But, we don’t have time for Mass or to pray. There’s another cat video that needs watching.

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