Prayer: Regular stops on a long journey

| Jeff Cavins | August 19, 2016 | 1 Comment

When people are asked how their prayer life is, most will say, “It could be better.” This awareness of our need to spend more time with God is also experienced in our relationships with our spouses and children. While it is true that we need to spend more time with God and our families, we often miss the most important point: the quality of time spent.

At its core, prayer is a relationship and not merely a mechanical obligation or duty to repeat spiritual words. Prayer is a conversation with God that involves both the mind and heart, and one that should color all that is said and done throughout the day.

The content of our daily prayer should manifest in what we say and do at home, work and in our social circles. Often times Jesus would go away and spend time alone with his Father in heaven. The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us some insight into the content of his prayer: “His words and works are the visible manifestation of his prayer in secret” (No. 2602). If you wanted to know the content of Jesus’ prayer back when he was walking the hills of Galilee, all you would have to do is listen to what he said and observe what he did.

Prayer as a pit stop

This concept of prayer having a direct influence on what we say and do during the day was recently illustrated in a long motorcycle trip I took. I joined about 20 men on an adventure to Canada and Montana, and each day we would ride between 400 and 700 miles.

We didn’t just get on the motorcycles and ride, however. We stopped many times throughout the day to check maps, confer with one another, refuel and pray. The content of each stop changed our schedule in terms of where we went, when we ate and how we watched out for each other.

Like our periodic stops throughout the day, prayer is our regular stop in life that ensures that we are going in the right direction and avoiding potential danger. The small stops become essential to the success of the overall journey.

The men who are journeying together in the Catholic Watchmen movement are invited to spend some time every day with the Lord. By consistently spending a few minutes daily in prayer, men will come to know the voice of Jesus in their life. When men come to know the heart of their heavenly Father and gain an understanding of his deeds in history, they will be more willing to trust him with their daily life.

A familiar voice

We understand this from our earthly relationships. I know the voice of my wife, Emily, because we have spent massive amounts of time together. Every morning we spend time drinking tea and talking. There is no human voice I know as well as the voice of my wife.

This is true with the Lord as well. Through prayer we come to know his worldview and his will for our lives.

By finding a regular place and time to pray, you will come to know the voice of God in your life and become more focused on what needs to change in your mindset and conduct.

It is a good idea to begin a prayer life by adopting some of the great prayers of the Church, such as the Lord’s Prayer, the rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. As the discipline of prayer matures, you will find yourself praying from the heart in a more spontaneous way, bringing praise, needs and concerns to Jesus.

The key to a fruitful prayer life is to choose a place and time to meet with Jesus and make up your mind that this will be the new norm for the rest of your life. Your relationship with the Lord will mature and you will go deeper and deeper with God as the months and years pass.

Cavins is former director of evangelization and catechesis for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and co-founder of Catholic Watchmen, an archdiocesan initiative to help men deepen their Catholic faith.

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Category: Catholic Watchmen

  • Nancy

    Jeff, what a great illustration of the road trip. The need for frequent breaks and communion is essential to how the journey will play out. I applied this as frequently ‘touching base’ within a single day (breath prayers) as radically changing how we live out our faith, allowing each stop to change our schedule in terms of how we watch out for each other, and how we approach all who come our way. I think it would be opportunity for greater discernment and guidance for each part of our day or just refreshment so I don’t act harshly if a bit fatigued. Thank you for this pearl of Truth so well illustrated.