What are the best gifts that we can give in this world; even better than a clay handprint from a first grader? Time and prayers.
When time is gone, no amount of money can buy it back. Prayers contain a power beyond this world. If we could chose between a million dollars or a million prayers for our intentions, which do you think would be a better investment?
In Teresa Tomeo’s latest book, Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag: On-the-go Devotions, her brief reflections ask us to move forward (spiritually) by stopping long enough to let in the spiritual. She tells us: “Don’t just do something, sit there.” But we have stuff to do! Lots of it!
“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Okay, then. How can we argue with that?
“We can’t give what we don’t have and how many of us feel like we have nothing left at the end of the day?” Tomeo asks. I used to feel that way, but I’ve learned to put it on pause to spend time with God, family, and others. Even if we can’t slip away for a weekend retreat, Tomeo suggests at least finding grace-filled moments to be still with the Lord. “… just be still and know that God is God.”
In prayer, she writes “Remind me that the world will not end if I take a break from the hustle and bustle to be with you. It might even be a better place, because every moment with you makes me a better person.” Likewise, in her chapter, “I Am Woman, Hear Me Snore,” Tomeo takes women to task for not getting enough rest. She suggests stepping away from the notion that we can “have it all,” and find ourselves some rest.
It’s too easy to fall into the trap of thinking time well spent is time accomplishing worldly things. Sometimes it is. But taking time for needed rest is time well spent too.
Prayer, The Gift that Keeps Giving
Once we find some time, we should fill at least some of it with prayer. “It is never true to say that we have no time to meditate; the less one thinks of God, the less time there will always be for God” –Ven. Fulton Sheen.
Pray will give us some of the rest we are seeking. “Prayer is the place of refuge for every worry, a foundation for cheerfulness, a source of constant happiness, a protection against sadness,” -St. John Chrysostom.
It is a gift we can give generously to others. “What souls we can convert by our prayers. The one who saves a soul from hell saves this soul and his own as well,” -St. Jean Marie Baptiste Vianney.
Prayers are also a gift we must give even to those who seem to be our enemies. “But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of our Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” –Jesus Christ.
In the end, however, the more generous we are with our prayers, the more we receive. “He who prays most receives most,” St. Alphonsus Maria de Liguori.
Ways to Give
When kids ask what we want for Mother’s Day or our birthday, ask them to pray a rosary for you or an hour of adoration, or help with housekeeping to free up time for you.
- Spend time with someone who will appreciate it or help them with their workload or childcare.
- Volunteer your time to a worthy cause.
- Give the gift of prayer or time in adoration. You don’t even always have to tell the person if it’s someone who would not understand. It’s a gift that gives back to you in rest and graces.
- Cut out unnecessary activities that suck up time with no rewards. Imagine what you can do with an extra hour a day, 365 hours in a year.
- Take time. Don’t wait for it to find you. Carve out time to rest, exercise, pray and to spend with others.
- Give yourself as a gift. Elderly people in nursing homes, people in hospitals, new neighbors or someone who lives alone might enjoy your company. How can you cheer up a friend or relative who has been feeling down?
- Give Anonymously. Some people don’t understand and won’t appreciate your prayers. Give anyways.
- Give to strangers. Pray also for anyone who crosses your path and for the suffering everywhere, including Purgatory.
We have enough time for everything God has for us to do unless our to-do list is not the same as God’s list for us. By adding more time and more prayer to our lives and giving freely of those gifts to others, we will also experience more God. It’s all free, just as God gives to us. So give generously.
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Copyright 2015 Patti Maguire Armstrong
Photo: by cohdra courtesy Morguefile.com
About the Author
Patti Maguire Armstrong is the mother of 10, and has a B.A. in social work and M.A. in public administration. Her newest book is Holy Hacks: Everyday Ways to Live Your Faith & Get to Heaven. Others include Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories from Everyday Families and the Amazing Grace Series. Follow her at @PattiArmstrong and read her blog at PattiMaguireArmstrong.com.