By Matt McDonald
I tend to live a really busy life. Part of it is I have a lot of things I’m involved with in life and part of it is I just don’t sit still very well. While the thought of a lazy afternoon or an afternoon nap might excite other people, it’s a disappointment for me. I’m usually even multi-tasking while I’m on the phone.
Maybe this is why prayer, especially silent prayer, is a struggle for me.
The idea of sitting in adoration for an extended period of time requires me to psych myself up as if I’m about to run a 20 mile race. As frequently as I give friends advice to “take time alone with God” or “pray about it and see what you hear,” it’s advice I’m horrible at accepting. I begin and before long am convincing myself that God wants me to pray by serving others and being joyful in my work. My prayer frequently involves me listening to music or doing something else while praying. Basically, I always have other things that need done or places I’ve promised people I would be. That might be one reason my best times at adoration have come when I go late at night, when there’s nothing else going on.
Jesus is busy in today’s Gospel.
I picture it like draft day, Jesus is going to decide who is chosen to be one of His apostles. But to make this decision, Jesus isn’t writing down pros and cons of people, figuring out who to choose. He is alone on a mountain praying. He is about to make a big decision and needs to focus. Jesus knows what I’m too stubborn to learn… prayer is important.
It puts our minds at ease.
I quickly forget that, as hard as it is for me to sit still for a while, taking care of my soul is just as important as anything else. In an interview, actor and restaurant owner Mark Wahlberg once said that no matter where he is each day, he goes to Mass or takes 10-15 minutes in a Catholic church before he starts his day. He said it helps to clear his head, focus on his actions and things in his life he needs to avoid. While I may ask God to bless and watch over other people, prayer doesn’t change other people, it changes my own heart. And by changing my heart, I’m able to face whatever challenges are put before me.
There’s a reason why, when I stop and think about it, the most peaceful people I know are those who take time to pray in silence. God needs more time with us than an hour at Mass a week. And that’s if I’m giving my full attention to the Mass instead of allowing my mind to go in a thousand other directions! It doesn’t mean that praying the rosary while working out or listening to the readings on the way to work is bad by any stretch of the imagination. But just like any good relationship, Jesus needs me to stop talking for a while, to rest.
He needs my full attention for a while, which seems fair since I need His full attention on my life all the time.
Without taking time in prayer, I have anxiety, I’m short on patience, I’m not the best me. As St. Augustine said, “Our heart is restless until it rests in you.” I have things to do today…like praying.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Matt is currently the Director of Finance and Operations at St. Adalbert Catholic Church in Berea, Ohio while attending Notre Dame College of Ohio for Business Administration. Throughout this time, he’s enjoyed volunteering in various high school youth ministry programs. His loves are coffee, craft beer, reading when time allows, and spending time with family and friends. His time with teens and love of art have taught him the need to look at people and things in life from another angle than what is first seen.