The Paradox of Prayer and Time

Say the rosary? I can barely squeeze in a “Hail Mary.” Read scripture? I’d like to, but I never get to sit down. Go to daily Mass? It would be nice, but you have got to be kidding. People give many reasons for not praying more. Close to the top of the list is the complaint that “I simply don’t have time.” There are so many other important things vying for our attention. There are children and spouses and parents who need us to help them. There are household chores to complete and work to be done. The to-do list is long and the hours are short. The first thing women do when the demands of the world become too much is cut out time for themselves. Unfortunately, this often includes time for God. We know we should spend more time in prayer, but it is often the first thing to go.

There is a line from the poem that says “I had so much to do, I had to take time to pray.” I have definitely found this to be true in my own life. Days in which I don’t make that time first thing in the morning to connect with God do not go well. I have long known that my relationships with others suffer when I don’t put my relationship with God first. I am much more easily aggravated and lack the patience I should have.

Recently, I have come to the understanding that my ability to be productive depends on my taking that time to pray as well. I honestly do wish that I could attend Mass every day. I look back at the times in my life when I was able to do that and I truly treasure them. Attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist always give me strength and peace. As it is, I try to attend Mass on Saturday mornings. Sometimes, I’m busy with a long list of chores around the house and I have a mental debate with myself over whether I should go or not. I have found, without fail, that those are the days I need to attend Mass most. Once I have turned over that one hour out of my day (including travel time) over to God, I find that he allows me to make the most out of the time I have left. I usually accomplish all I need to and more. On the rare occasions that my to-do list doesn’t get done, I am left with a feeling of acceptance that I accomplished what I needed to. The other things can wait.

The past week, my children were at day camp at a local church. I love my children dearly and I treasure my time with them, but one of the realities of being a homeschooling mom is that time for oneself is severely limited. This week, I was given the gift of twenty-five hours of alone time, and was determined to make the most of them. I had a number of projects I wanted to complete. I also had the opportunity to attend Mass at the church after I dropped them off each morning. It was a little bit of a sacrifice to give up that precious time, but it was a sacrifice well-rewarded. Not only did I get the spiritual benefit of attending Mass, but the time I had left was hugely productive. I got so much done. I know God was helping my projects along.

This is the paradox of prayer. The more time we spend with God, the more he allows us to make use of the time left in our day. It works every time. I invite you to give it a try.