Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Prioritizing Prayer in the Midst of Life

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Back in July, a member of my first spiritual directors’ peer supervision group, who is now Executive Director of the Shalem Institute, where I did my spiritual director training, invited me to consider leading an in-person group in conjunction with their online School of Contemplative Prayer class this fall. Prayer and some “coincidences” led me to believe that I should accept this invitation, and so I began spreading the word.

Then, suddenly, shortly before the course was to begin, our move to Tucson moved onto the fast track. I struggled with whether I should, perhaps, cancel my involvement and invite those who were interested to just participate in the online portion of the course. However, prayer revealed the truth that, in this season of busyness and major change in my life, I needed this practice of prayer more than ever. The bald truth is that, with responsibility for leading a group, I would be much more faithful to the course, and the practice of prayer.

IMG_1942And so it has begun. So far, I am proving that adage that we preach what we most need to hear. Shalem says that the most important element of the course is the time set aside every day for prayer. I do not have a perfect attendance record in daily prayer, nor have I made the time to read and reflect upon many of the journal messages from our various online classmates. I have managed to listen to all the portions of the online course, however, and have made more time for prayer than I likely would have without the course there to remind me.

I’ve also had to accept, and learn to appreciate, the irony that the best scheduled time for our weekly in-person meeting was late each Friday afternoon. This has meant, in part, that we weren’t able to get an early start to Tucson this weekend. As I thought about it, I realized that putting God first is not just something we say; it’s something we need to do. We need to make time for prayer in our lives, regardless of what’s happening in our lives or the juggling to our schedules that might result.

We need to make time for God because that relationship grounds and centers us as we approach all the other relationships and events in our lives. Making time for God—perhaps especially when that seems to “intrude” upon the rest of our day—is a potent reminder that this spiritual relationship needs to be a high priority for everyone, every day.

Where is God on your priority list? What might you need to juggle in order to make time for daily prayer?

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