Time is one of the greatest gifts God has given us in this life. And yet, how easy is it for us to take it for granted, especially when it passes by so quickly — it seems the days, weeks, and months go by faster and faster with each new year.
Like all gifts from God, time was given to us for a purpose. Because God is the author of time, only He knows how best it can be used to make us happy. How do we find out what God wants for each of us in this earthly life? Just like any loving relationship, to know the desires of the lover, one must first get to know the lover himself.
As it turns out, our Divine Lover wants nothing more than an intimate friendship with us for all eternity. We can begin that relationship right now. The means through which we become friends with Jesus in this life can be summed up in one simple word: Prayer.
Prayer may be a simple word but putting it into practice takes effort. Nevertheless, if there is one goal that is worth all the time and effort we have on this earth, it is to develop the habit of prayer. Prayer is, essentially, a loving relationship with God, without which our lives are meaningless. St. Augustine says, “You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.” St. Teresa of Avila further explains, “Prayer is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart conversation with Him by whom we know ourselves to be loved.”
The new year is a great time to ask ourselves if we need to renew our commitment to prayer and to think of ways to cultivate that intimate friendship Jesus wants to have with us.
While there are numerous ways to pray, every spiritual authority includes a few essential elements in developing a life of prayer. Here are some of them:
Make it a daily affair: Even if it means starting at five minutes a day, set aside some time each day for conversation with Jesus, and then build from there. Proceed in little steps.
Give it some structure: Reading the Scriptures and other spiritual material or studying a picture of Jesus and reflecting on scenes from His life are some great ways to focus your mind on the Lord. Include opportunities to talk to Him, thank Him, express sorrow, or anger, and ask Him for the desires of your heart. Talk to Him as you would your closest friend.
Allow for silence: Choose a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and where you won’t disturb others. Remember, Jesus often withdrew to pray. This makes sense. People who truly love each other often desire to be alone. Jesus loves each of us individually and wants to whisper words that only we can hear. Silence is necessary if we want to hear Him speak to our hearts.
Make time for family or group prayer: Praying with others strengthens us, holds us spiritually accountable, and is a good example to others. Try praying the Rosary with your family.
Turn everyday undertakings into prayer: When we perform any action, even the smallest one, out of love for Jesus, it becomes a prayer. We can make our entire day a prayer if we remember this simple concept.
Don’t be discouraged when you encounter struggles: However, distracted we become, or however unfruitful our prayer seems to be, Jesus is always pleased when we spend time with Him. In fact, it is often when we persevere during difficult times that He is most pleased. And when we feel unworthy, we should run to Jesus in prayer. He alone holds the key to our healing and happiness; He is the only one who can transform us into the persons He created us to be.