In today's Gospel we read that Jesus spent the night in prayer. When was the last time you or I spent the night in prayer? I'm doing great if I spend 10 minutes in prayer. Maybe a few times a week I'll spend 20-30 minutes in prayer with the rosary. Once a month, if I remember, I'll spend maybe an hour in prayer in Adoration but even much of that is time spent trying to rein in my wandering mind.
How does Jesus spend the night in prayer? I mean, what does He do during that time? The question sounds silly when I say it out loud, especially when I also say the answer, "He prayed."
In our technology driven world our attention spans have become shorter and shorter. We have conditioned ourselves to be entertained. Our cell phones, news, politics, web surfing, and television viewing are all just varying degrees of entertainment. If you don't believe me, just ask an advertising executive; an honest one.
Today, making time for prayer is a sacrifice. In a world where most folks check their Facebook page no less than 14 times per day for an average of 32 minutes per day, it's no wonder a prayer life is lacking for many of us. Did you check Facebook today? Did you pray today? Today I can answer "yes" to both but Facebook and email are winning in the time allotted category...
After Jesus' night in prayer He does great things, important things. Jesus comes down from the mountain and chooses His twelve closest followers. Judas was part of that group. Maybe that's why it was an all night time of prayer. Then, after choosing His team, He goes out an heals diseases and casts out unclean spirits. Do you see the connection? Do you see a pattern with the Lord? Prayer is the foundation for all that the Lord does. It should be that way for me and for you too. What could the Lord do through you and me if we spent more time with Him in prayer and less time "liking" the latest meme?
A large number of people from all over came to hear Him? How? Why? Simon Peter didn't create a Facebook event to let everyone know. Bartholomew didn't send out an email blast with directions and a meeting time. Philip didn't provide a massive text message to everyone who had texted "fishandchips" to 70809.
They came because "power came forth from him" and that power came from prayer. Jesus said that we too will do great things but the the power has to come forth from Him through us. This power can only come from Him through us if we are connected to Him, connected in prayer.
How to get better at prayer.
- Set a prayer appointment - Set a time on your calendar each day to meet and speak with God.
- Slowly increase your prayer time. - Don't jump in with an hour right from the get-go. Build up your "tolerance" so to speak.
- Commit - to praying and slowly increasing your prayer time for 30 days. Mark off the days on your calendar. If you miss a day, jump right back in, don't give up.
- Pray - praying is talking to God, it's spending time with your attention focused on Him. I enjoy spending time with my children regardless of their level of development. God is the same way. Spend time praying as best you can. Use formal prayers if you want or simply speak in conversation. Don't forget to listen
- Journal - Our newly revised 4 Simple Steps to Better Scripture Meditations: Guide, Workbook, and Journal walks you through 4 easy steps that will help you go deeper in your prayer life. It includes 31 days of workbook and journal pages too!
- Read other good books about how to pray better - Prayer Primer, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer, Time for God, The Spiritual Life: A Comprehensive Guide to Catholics Seeking Salvation.