When I write, I usually think I am writing to help someone else by sharing my story; however, sometimes when I write a piece I realize that God wanted me to write it as a reminder to myself! Time and time again I have found myself in a situation and am reminded of a story I previously shared on a blog or in a book, and I feel it’s like God whispering in my ear exactly what I am supposed to be doing at the present time.
Recently, God has been prodding me to finding more time to spend time with him in prayer. A few weeks ago, I pulled into the parking lot of church to pick up my teenage son from youth group and immediately noticed I was the only car in the lot. Realizing I was 30 minutes early, I picked up my phone to check my email. As I was about to turn on my phone, I recalled this story I recently wrote about in our brand new book (JUST RELEASED LAST SATURDAY) that Emily and I wrote, Pray Fully, Simple Steps to becoming a Woman of Prayer, that had happened to me several years ago when I was finding it difficult to find time to pray.
I came to the stark realization that I was not growing in my prayer life. The busyness of part time work, two children (at the time) and many volunteer roles left little time for serious prayer.
Although I realized the defect in my spiritual life, I didn’t have a remedy to my problem. My life was only going to get busier and more demanding. Quiet time alone spent in prayer didn’t seem to exist, no matter how hard I tried. Yet I knew in the scriptures, it was written that we were to “Pray without Ceasing” (1Thess 5:17). I asked the Lord “Where would I find the time to pray every day?”
Then God spoke clearly to me as I was sitting in the car. I had been running some errands and had only 20 minutes until it was time to pick up my daughter from preschool. There was not enough time for an additional errand or to stop home, and my youngest was asleep in the car seat. I decided to pull into the school parking lot and listen to our local Catholic Radio station and catch up on some emails. Women of Grace with Johnette Benkovic was on and her words caught my ear. She was discussing going through the very same plight in her life, trying to find time to pray. She shared with with the listeners, “I heard God say to me, Johnnette, I’ll give you the time to pray, you just have to use it.” It clicked in my head: “God is talking to me too!” I was sitting, parked in my car, in total silence. What a great 15 minutes this could be if I spent it in prayer instead of wasting it on my emails. I began to ask God to show me the times during the day I was “wasting” and help me use them as opportunities to pray. As I began to look for ask God for more moments to pray during the day, more opportunities came available. I also became more purposeful in creating time during my day to spend time with Him. It may not always be a long time, but even five or ten minutes in conversation with God has brought great fruit into my life and helped me know his will for my life.”
I kind of chuckled as the story played through my mind, here I was, again sitting right next to Jesus in the church, but I still wanted to click on the email icon at the bottom of my phone. “In just a minute I’ll pray,” I told God. Then this text came through from my son:
“Youth Group goes until 8:30, my bad … I’m in the church right now, you can come in if you want.”
How could I turn that invitation down? I walked into the church, expecting a quiet prayer service with a handful of teens. Instead, the church was packed and boisterous praise music was being played. The youth group members raising their hands and their voices in worship before the Blessed Sacrament. My heart swelled as I joined in their prayer for the next thirty minutes. It was the rejuvenation that I needed, a mountaintop experience, as I felt a deep, personal encounter with God that night. As I was walking out of church at the conclusion I brought to tears that I almost wasted this time in the parking lot checking emails.
As busy women, we don’t always make time with Jesus a priority. There are lots of reasons for this: too little time, too much on our plates, and even knowing what to say to Jesus once we are alone with him. Sure, we find it easy to go to Christ when we need something, but Christ stands ready to offer us something even better: a true friendship with Him. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states “Yet the 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.” (CCC 2567)
Prayer is not optional, it is essential. Prayer cannot be something we leave on the back burner and only pull out in times of need. Prayer is the lifeblood of our faith, a two-way conversation with God that alternately comforts, strengthens, and inspires. This Lent, I encourage you to make a resolution to “waste time” with God. Write down the time you are going to spend with Him in your calendar, get a notebook and start prayer journaling, meditate upon the scriptures each morning or even try a prayer program such as PRAY40 by Fr. Michael Denk designed to teach you meditative prayer. We hope that you read Pray Fully with your friends or parish and together learn to pause and pray. Emily and I have put together a free study guide at the back of the book and have FREE videos on the resource page for Pray Fully. Ave Maria Press even has bulk discounts (40% off) for group purchases of 10 or more with code SIMPLESTEPS.
I can promise you that no matter what you encounter this Lent, if you are spending time on your relationship with God, your year will be transformational.