This Lent I have been reading daily reflections by Fr. Robert Barron. Below is one I read recently encouraging us to pray.
What is prayer? Saint John of Damascus said, “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God.” When someone asked Thomas Merton to reveal the one thing he should do to improve his prayer life, Merton responded: “Take the time.”
During Lent, we must consciously take the time to raise our hearts and minds to God. We seek communion with God through friendship and conversation. But how do we do this in our busy lives?
One thing I often recommend is praying in the car (or in the subway, bus, train, etc.) For those of us distracted by a thousand things, and who are constantly on the move, the car can be a bit like a monastic cell. It encloses you within a quiet, meditative space conducive to prayer. Also, as an added bonus, when you treat your car as a monastery, traffic becomes a welcome opportunity for more prayer and silence, rather than a cause of frustration.
Now, I understand this will be easier for some than others. For example, mothers of young children may have a difficult time cultivating a quiet space. But to the extent that you’re able, consider turning off the radio today. Put away your phone. Use your travel time to raise your mind and heart to God.
Maybe you pray the Rosary, or perhaps you converse with God about your day. But whatever you decide, take the time. Turn your car into a monastery.
I was especially struck by Merton’s response to the person who asked one thing he should do to improve his prayer life. “Take the time.” In our reading from the Book of Exodus we hear the story of the chosen people wandering through the desert. There were many times when they wondered whether God was with them. And yet time and again there were signs of God’s presence. God parted the Red Sea and led them across, slaying the Egyptians as they chased after them. When they were hungry God provided quail and manna for them to eat. In today’s reading the people are thirsty and God provides water from a rock.
Over time, in different ways, God reminded the people that He was with them. The challenge for the people was to trust that God would provide, sometimes in unimaginable ways. Over time how have we experienced God with us, sometimes in unimaginable ways?
In our Gospel story we see a woman take time to be with Jesus. In that time she sees someone relate to her in unimaginable ways. She was a woman. She was a Samaritan. She was an outcast and yet this Jew spoke to her. In their conversation she grew in appreciation of who Jesus was and what he had to offer her. It took time, but what wonderful things came from time spent with Jesus.
When do you find time to speak with your God? It is an experience that can change your time in unimaginable ways.