Life can get so busy and so complicated that sometimes all the stress and confusion can overflow into our prayer life. That’s been me lately. And because I am also in that desert place, where prayer is dry and difficult, I have struggled trying to “pray well.”
Then I heard Father Larry Richards. I was driving to my Secular Carmelite meeting Sunday afternoon, and Father Larry was on the Catholic radio re-broadcast of EWTN’s Life on the Rock. He was talking about his new book, Surrender, and began to share what he tells people who say that they don’t have time to pray.
First of all he said that everyone has at least five minutes a day to spend with Jesus. But many of the people Father ministers to are new to prayer, and five minutes seems like a long time to be alone with God.
So Father suggests spending those precious minutes in the following way:
Spend one minute telling Jesus that you are sorry for your sins, and asking Him to forgive you.
Spend the second minute telling Him that you surrender your life to Him
And spend the last three minutes asking Jesus to just hold you. Imagine yourself leaning against His chest, like St. John at the Last Supper, and listening to His Heart beating.
That’s it. Just five quiet minutes with Jesus.
After my meeting, I went to evening Mass, and during my thanksgiving after Holy Communion, I spent the time just like Father Larry suggested….and it was so lovely and peaceful.
Jesus reminded me of what I have known about prayer in better days…that it doesn’t have to be perfect. That it shouldn’t be a struggle. That He understands when we are tired, have a bad day, are in pain, etc. We don’t have to be formal or follow methods to pray. When God doesn’t send consolations, we should remain at peace. It doesn’t mean that He is displeased with us.
Our Father is always waiting for us, longing for us to run to Him, no matter what we may have done. He is so eager to forgive. And Jesus, yes, He longs to hold us in His arms…hold us tight. Who loves us more than the One Who died to save us? Who is more loving and consumed with affection for us than Jesus? St. John knew this, and did not hesitate to rest on Our Lord….and no doubt was a great comfort to Jesus through this act of love.
Some years ago, I stopped by an empty church to visit Jesus. But instead of going up near the tabernacle as I usually did, I knelt in the back. I had not been on my best behavior that day, and felt unworthy of drawing nearer. Then into my mind flashed the scene of myself as a little girl, and she was running up the aisle as fast as she could to Jesus, Who scooped her up in His arms and hugged and kissed her.
And suddenly I got up and walked quickly to kneel before my Savior and smile at Him and ask His forgiveness and lose myself in His welcoming embrace.
Prayer is really so simple. St. John knew. Father Larry knows.
And now, I remember too.
Jesus, hold me, hold me close……forever.
From Descending Fire, The Journal of a Soul Aflame:
by Father Jean Petit
I desire, Holy Trinity, that each act of my life might be stamped with the seal of heroism and martyrdom, that nothing may be lost in each of the moments given to me through your generosity……
Alas! Reality is different. My times of emptiness are numerous, at least in appearance, when I hardly am permitted to think about You, when my physical capacity is inadequate for intellectual learning, when it seems that I have done nothing. I have done nothing, and so I must be resigned to wait for better days.
Better days? But these empty days are the best. They are really empty only in appearance. That is when You force me to put my finger on the reality of what I am and so make me experience my complete powerlessness. Happy days are those empty days, in which You fill me with Yourself, in which You teach me secretly, consume me, and strengthen me; in which You allow Your light, Your love and Your power to pierce my soul….