Can We Neglect Prayer and Meditation? Are they “optional?”
Devotional and Discussion Thought of the Day:
1 One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.”
Luke 11:1 (TEV)
49 Zain Keep in mind your promise to your servant on which I have built my hope. 50 It is my comfort in distress, that your promise gives me life. Psalm 119:49-50 (NJB)
579 There was a young priest who used to address Jesus with the words of the Apostles: Edissere nobis parabolam, explain the parable to us. He would add: Master, put into our souls the clarity of your teaching, so that it may never be absent from our lives and our works. And so that we can give it to others. You too should say this to Our Lord.
Maybe a year ago, a missionary friend of mine and I were talking about the balance of ministry. He had recently gone through a rough patch, and he realized that he had been so busy that he neglected what he was saved to be. He as neglecting his time with God.
It is far too easy, in this day when time demands all we have, and far more. Especially for those in ministry, whether in a congregation, on the mission field, or in preparing those who will minister in the classrooms of our colleges and seminaries. It is tempting to reduce our time with God to the study of His word for teaching others. After all, it is similar, it is similar motions, it is dealing with the same material.
Yet Jesus did the same things – and still went away to pray to the Father. He didn’t just count the sermon on the mount and preparing for it as His time with the Father. And he praised Mary for sitting at his feet, rather than serving those in her vocation as hostess.
There is a time for both. There is a need for both, but especially for our regular, deeply intimate time with God. A time where we ask Him to show us how to pray, a time where we ask Him to explain to us His teachings, where the Holy Spirit takes us to school in prayer, so that He permeates our very lives, and from that life, we can give it to others.
We need this time with Him. It is what underlies the basis of a sacramental approach to God. Otherwise, we could just replace the church with a classroom, we could make do even with the latest book or podcast, getting knowledge from others. I believe some churches have done this, diminishing prayer and worship, times of meditation and absolution for a longer exegetical sermon that may or may not mention Jesus, and may or may not bring comfort to broken hearts.
The gathering, the church service, the mass is a time of prayer, it is a time waiting on Jesus, listening to Him, seeing His love revealed and given to us, not just taught to us. Our times of prayer, of spending time contemplating and meditating on His word is similar. This is why the early Lutheran priests talked about prayer as a sacrament, it is why the ancient church fathers talked about how we pray is how we believe, and why the dedication of Solomon’s temple talked all about “when people pray”.
Spend time with God, talk, listen, ask for insight, ask to understand, that what you experience may be an integral part of your life, a delight, and that it may flow from you to others.
I pray that you see revealed and experience the peace of God which passes all understanding, and that found in the presence of Christ, you know He will keep your heart and mind safe in that peace. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 2156-2159). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.