‘Ask the Cardinal’: Finding Time to Pray


During a recent event at the Newseum sponsored by the John Carroll Society –  a conversation with Fox News Channel’s Bret Baier on the topic, “Catholicism and our Challenging World Today” – I was asked a variation of the following question.  My answer is adapted below.

Between my work and family obligations and numerous other activities and commitments, I find it hard to ‘connect’ with God in my busy life.  How can I make more time for prayer?

Many people often send dozens of text messages every day to connect with their friends.  Their use of cell phones and texting offers us an important insight on prayer.  We need to keep communication lines open for any kind of relationship.  The same is true with our relationship with God.

Even amid the distractions of everyday life, we have to find some moments of the day when we speak to God.  Prayer allows us to do that, to connect with God our Father, and to unite our daily life with our Lord Jesus.

Like text messages, prayers don’t have to be long.  We can wake up in the morning and just say to God, “I’m giving you the day, be with me.”  Make time for God during the day and you will find a relationship can develop.

One beautiful prayer tradition is the practice of lectio divina, reading a passage of Scripture, perhaps a line from one of that day’s readings, and reflecting on that in the quiet moments of the day.

Certainly, Mass offers us the most perfect form of prayer, as we receive Jesus through the Eucharist and then go forth to share his love and hope with others.

At mealtimes, we can make a public witness to our faith by praying before meals, in our homes, our schools or workplaces, even in restaurants.  “Thank you, Lord, for this food.”  Through such prayers, we acknowledge God’s grace in our lives, and we are reminded of our need to offer prayers of thanksgiving to God for all of our blessings.

We can pray even when we are stuck in traffic!  Praying the rosary then can help us reflect on Jesus, who prayed to his Father and encouraged his disciples to live lives of prayer.  And this is probably a better means of dealing with the frustrations of a daily commute than some of the usual ways people may choose.

Difficult moments in life remind us we don’t have the power to change things or have all the answers, but through prayer, we are reminded that God is always with us.  When we open our hearts in prayer to God, the Father is there and will hear us.  No prayer has ever been lost on its way to God’s throne.

The best way to end each day is by praying before we fall asleep, reflecting on God’s presence to us that day and asking him to bless and guide us.

Our call to holiness is rooted in the gift of new life we receive through Jesus Christ in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  The new life that we receive in Baptism, that we nurture through prayer and the sacraments, will someday flower in eternal life.  All of our aspirations for eternal life are rooted in the precious gift of new life that comes to us in Christ.

Prayer has to be a part of life.  It is our communication, our conversation with God.  When we connect to Jesus through prayer, our hearts can be transformed, and the light of faith can shine in our daily lives.  As Jesus’ disciples and friends, we can manifest and build his kingdom in today’s world.  That work can begin with a simple prayer.