No Time for Prayer

Blog Published: January 12, 2010
By Sister Julie

We know that prayer is integral to our life and faith. As a Catholic sister, I set aside time in the morning and evening in order to be quiet and be open to listening to and talking with God. But sometimes I just don’t seem to have the time for it. Take today for example. I woke up thinking about all the things I have to do today including a couple past-due deadlines, an email inbox that is overflowing, a meet to prepare for and participate in, errands, and a podcast.

Needless to say, I was stressed before I even got out of bed. To make matters worse, we’re low on coffee!

My instinct is to hop out of bed and turn the computer on and get to work. And that’s exactly what I did this morning. Barely registered the fact that I was jumping over my time for prayer (yes, it happens to us religious folk too). Now having knocked a few things off my list (but with plenty left), I’m feeling less stressed, but also less myself.

What’s missing?


True, prayer doesn’t get me any closer to finishing these tasks. In fact, it appears to pull me further away because that’s precious time and energy I could place elsewhere. Yet prayer can’t be reduced to an item on an agenda, a “to-do” that can be checked off. It’s the very soul of life, the rhythm of one’s day, the disposition that one brings to everyone and everything else.

When I take time for prayer -- whether it's an hour to open and close the day, a quick heartfelt check-in with God, or a day of retreat -- I am tending to the most important relationship of my life, I feel at once more myself, more grounded in the Source of my life, and more tuned to the people and world around me. These moments of prayer allow me to make my whole day, and indeed my whole life, a prayer such that I can have a prayerful openness throughout the day.

I know God understands and is not mad or planning to smote me when I am not the perfect pray-er. At the same time, I know and feel it’s importance in my relationship with God, with myself, and with others. Even though I’m in work mode now, and in the middle of a timely project, I’m going to set the timer so that in 30 minutes I can take a break knowing that a few crucial details have been taking care of. When the timer goes off, I will return to my time for prayer so that I can be fully present and open to God and to the rest of the day.

Ever had one of these days? What helps you return to prayer and a “prayerful openness”?

Archived Comments

Ashley B. January 12, 2010 at 12:01 pm

This seems to be my biggest problem. I find myself incredibly busy these days and get in over my head most days. I sometimes push God to the back so I can accomplish what I need to. It didn’t dawn on me how often I push God to the back until I read this. Perhaps the reason I feel like I’m in over my head is because that is God’s way of saying, “Hey, Ashley, take a break. Come to me with your problems and let me help you.”

Another Sister Julie, CSSF January 12, 2010 at 3:28 pm

Okay, this sounds really stupid I know, but my alarm clock is set to a Catholic radio station. I get up to the sound of Mass being said! I groggily listen to the readings and homily as I sip a cup of wake-up juice (aka: coffee). It gives me a jump-start for our convent Mass (the broadcast, not the coffee. Well, maybe both…) It also helps me to focus on my spiritual life from the first moment of the day.

Jeannie January 12, 2010 at 5:40 pm

Sometimes whenever prayer isn’t the first thing I do as soon as I wake up it’s as if my soul hasn’t woken up yet. I haven’t consecrated my day and asked for guidance. I haven’t remembered to say “I Love You” to the one who means the most to me. It definitely throws me out of whack. I know that something crucial is missing. Life does throw you curves though and getting through a stressful day does seem to take it’s toll on prayer sometimes, but I’ve learned through experience that the time I spend in quiet contemplation is time well spent because I end up being twice as productive and less stressed. Happy praying all.

Ann Therese Kelly CSSF January 12, 2010 at 7:10 pm

Getting up to pray at 5:15am is difficult for me. But I love our new Franciscan prayer books and I get comfort from the readings there.

Sue January 12, 2010 at 7:42 pm

Well, when everything is going wrong,nothing seems even relatively smooth as normal I soon discover what the missing factor is prayer!! Luckily I have many opportunitites for prayer during my day, some planned, some impromptu, but I know God appreciates them all, and I thank him for all the opportunities he gives me!

Kathleen January 12, 2010 at 8:45 pm

How timely Sister Julie. Yes, this happens to me and … more than it should. I didn’t have lots of tasks today but one task in particular called for a great deal of time, energy, and patience. I said morning prayers, which I had forgotten, right after reading your blog this morning. God provided all that I needed for my task. In addition to your question of “What” helps you return to prayer, I was thinking of “Who” helps me return to prayer? Used to be that the crucifix, statue of Mary, Rosary, or Bible would provide reminders. They still do, but now, more than ever, I am reminded of prayer … through people. I am reminded to pray … when I see someone intently praying at Mass or Adoration, glancing at a family saying prayers at the Mall, receiving personal prayer requests at a prayer meeting, on email or during “Praying with Sisters” podcast and caring for elderly who are quite sick. Thanks for the reminder.

joanna January 12, 2010 at 11:11 pm

“What helps me return to prayer and a “prayerful openness”?” Before, I’m not really a prayerful person. most of the time, I forgot to say prayers because of such busy scheds, and more. ?But when I felt “God’s calling”, it was like this is God’s way of telling me that prayer is much more important than anything else in the world. With prayer, you are guided by Him. So now, I feel a lot more confident and happier whenever I have the chance to pray. Or even when there a little time for it, I usually go to our school chapel spending time with God.

monk January 12, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Sister, just wish to say that the ‘No Time to Pray’ is what I also experience, when I have not first been in prayer before anything else. As I slip out of bed I pray a shortened waking-up version of the Jewish Shema, then the francophone Trappist Lauds; then get on with some work on computer (I’m spiritual director to a number of hermits and serious seekers/walkers). Thanks for all your work on the Nun’s Life posts I receive daily and forward to my list.

Sr Therese COS January 13, 2010 at 4:05 am

Days that don’t begin with prayer completely unravel for me – and this has happened so many times now that I just know that if I skip my morning office, my day will go down the toilet so fast it’s as if some kind of divine flush has been pulled! I also need to pray at the end of the day, and I try to spend some time reflecting on my day and finding where I most loved God – and where God got left out. I’ve also started to learn that if things are falling apart for any reason, I a) need to have something to eat, and b) need a few moments to myself to pray and centre again. What/who brings me back? People, a beautiful view (I have a stunner out of my office window that’s always good for a quick meditation on God’s wondrous creativity!), an icon, the rosary in my pocket, people, an event I’ve heard about or know of – lots of things. I try to live every moment of every day with an awareness of God inside, looking up into his face, but it doesn’t always work out that way….!

Anna January 13, 2010 at 7:38 am

Yes sister, sometimes after just openning my eyes in the morning my mind rush to think of the things to do, but this year I change that… I offer all works, joy and everything to God… and pray that I will be able to tackle the task that I am destine to do for Jesus. And therefore all my action for the day will also become a prayer. I just hope in my heart that I dont passedby a soul that needs my attention… And that I always try harder to think that what I do is all been offered to God, so I try not to lose temper to others or my husband… and be aware God is always with me… it changes everything in my world. It makes me love even the most difficult person. Thanks…

marla January 13, 2010 at 9:37 am

i tend to carry on a conversation with god throughout the day… in the shower, in the car, in the kitchen as i cook, as i mop floors, as i drift off to sleep…. but i seem to have trouble sitting down to prayer. singing hyms can focus me, as can listening to worship music. but nothing helps direct my prayer better than these two things: other people–we need support in our prayer–and my prayer corner. the prayer corner has a bible, other spiritual books, candles, prayer bowls, my grandmother’s rosary, a cross, and incense. if i bother to set the mood, i can pray well, communicate well, for much longer.

Jeff January 13, 2010 at 1:29 pm

For me, two things make a difference. I play the harp and I find that playing early in the morning (after caffeination) puts me in a better frame of mind and heart than watching the morning news. Also, my morning walk to the subway (I live in New York City.) when it’s still dark and quiet gives me a great atmosphere to think about holy things. I’ve been trying each morning to live by my New Year’s Resolution, which is to say thank you to God every day.

Mary January 13, 2010 at 4:43 pm

I go to morning Mass every weekday morning and read several readings, including Word Among Us and God Calling. I find when I rush through prayer time or skip it all together; nothing goes right. I have been given an awesome gift of Jesus’ presence and am selfish and do not live in His presence enough, but am trying to do better. I look at Jesus’ mercy towards me and realize I should never put anything ahead of Him, not even important human tasks. Looking at Jesus’ mercy will help you stay focussed. Hugs, Mary

Tena Conil January 22, 2010 at 6:43 am

I don’t claim to be someone who already has an ordered prayer life, but I found my prayer life changed radically, after I met Christ personally. Funny you’d think – but most of us were ‘praying’ even before we had a personal encounter with the Risen Lord! I often tell my young friends – love changes everything! When you are in love, you see EVERYTHING in a different light. It was the same with me in prayer. Found these beautiful quotes below, very helpful: “There is no other remedy for the evil of giving up prayer than to begin again; otherwise the soul will gradually lose more each day.” (Teresa of Avila) … “Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.” (Walter Elliot, American priest, Catholic writer)

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