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Making Time for Prayer

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I remember learning to pray daily in college. At that time I was convinced I was the busiest person on the face of the planet. How could I possibly add prayer to my already maxed out schedule? I talked to God in bits and pieces throughout the day, wasn’t that enough?

When talking to a spiritual mentor about this, her response to me was the following: “Imagine having a relationship with your boyfriend where you never actually sit down and have a real conversation, you just communicate by short little text messages here and there. What would the quality of your relationship be?” While that metaphor really spoke to me at the time, it means even more to me now that I am married. What if my husband and I didn’t do our nightly debriefs? What if we just texted four or five times a day? What kind of relationship would we have? I can think to points in our marriage where our communication level declined and the tenor of our marriage went right down with it.

The same thing is true of our relationship with God. It is beautiful when we talk to God in little moments throughout the day. But as we know with any friend or partner, if we want to truly grow a life-giving relationship, we have to dedicate set-aside time every day to conversation. It is amazing the transformation that occurred in my own relationship with Jesus once I started making time for this daily conversation. It has been challenging making time for prayer since becoming a mother, but it has always been worth it. The quality of my relationship with God is so much greater when I am taking time every day to sit down and converse with him, even if just for the length of my first cup of coffee.

So how do we do this? First, I would recommend deciding what time of day would allow you to be most present. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you have a lunch break that you could use or the kids’ naptime? Once you figure that out, I recommend putting it in your planner. Whatever you use for all your other daily appointments and tasks, add it there so you see it right away and can make sure to hold space for it. You will likely have to make some sacrifices to fit it in—getting up a little earlier or replacing another leisure activity. Finally, how much time? If you are not in the habit of praying every day, start with 5 minutes of dedicated, scheduled conversation with God and increase by 5 minutes a week until you hit your max capability. Typically, 30 minutes at a time is the sweet spot for most adults.

It will take time to develop this habit. Luckily we have the entire season of Lent! So your challenge for this week is to schedule in at least 5 minutes of daily, set aside, dedicated conversation with God. And remember, if you ever need help developing this habit, our staff is more than willing to help! Please do not hesitate to reach out to any one of us.

Choose Life

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While in graduate school, I spent a year serving as a crisis pregnancy counselor at a Christian organization that seeks to provide women and couples with the resources necessary to choose life. I had always been anti-abortion, so I saw this as an opportunity to do hands-on pro-life work. What I experienced will forever change the way I understand what it means to be “pro-life.”

I’m not really sure what I was expecting to encounter when I agreed to the opportunity, but whatever it was, the actual experience was a completely different reality. I encountered women who lived with abusive husbands, but were dependent on them for financial support or had other children with these men that they had to consider. I encountered men and women who had been laid off from work and were unable to find gainful employment to support this new child. Families whose jobs didn’t provide medical coverage so they couldn’t even afford prenatal care, let alone the exorbitant cost of child birth. Teen mothers who were kicked out of their homes when their parents found out they were pregnant. Women whose husbands walked out on them when they found out, and left them to face the pregnancy alone. I walked these women and couples through the process of procuring government assistance and saw, time and again, how it failed to meet their needs, how it provided only a fraction of what it would take to raise their child to maturity, how the abundant requirements for assistance disqualified people who desperately needed help. For all that the center did to provide aid, most of this assistance only lasted until the age of two.

It is because of this experience that I came to understand the totality of the Christian call to be pro-life. It was in walking with these women and seeing the enormity of what they faced that I realized how much work needs to be done, starting with birth and every single day after. It was there that I realized I couldn’t simply pat myself on the back for changing a mother’s mind; I then had to do the even harder work of electing leaders, supporting policies, and donating to charities that would continue to give her and her child the assistance they needed.

So today, on Respect Life Sunday, let us of course pray for an end to abortion, pray for all of the children we have lost to abortion, and all those we still stand to lose. But let us also be sure to remember those parents who feel like they don’t have any other option. Let us pray for them and pray for the creation of a society that makes it possible for every family to unequivocally choose life.

Be Enlightened by Jesus

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The Gospel for today is a well-known passage: the Parable of the Sower and Seed. And while every reflection I have ever heard on this Gospel focuses on contemplating what seed we are, I want to draw our attention elsewhere. I want to focus on the section that scares us, the section that we tend to ignore because we aren’t quite sure what to do with it.

When asked why He speaks in parables, Jesus says, “Gross is the heart of this people…they have closed their eyes lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their hearts and be converted.” This is a harsh condemnation for the people in Jesus’ community. But as I read these words, I cannot help but find them applicable even now.

We have become a people so defined by our political affiliation that we can’t have friends with opposing views, or have civil discourse on matters of global significance. Instead of letting the Gospel dictate our politics, we have let our politics dictate our Gospel. We have fashioned Jesus in the image and likeness of party values, forgetting that it is us who were fashioned in His image and likeness. It is us who close our eyes and ears to the parts of the Gospel that don’t fit with our political doctrine. It is us whose hearts have grown gross and refuse to be converted by the entirety of the Gospel message.

But we are called to be disciples. We are called to see what others do not see, to hear what others do not hear, to be enlightened by Jesus first, party affiliation second…or last. We are called to be the unifiers, to stand in the middle ground, to be mediators and bridge builders. This is challenging work in a system that makes it ‘either/or.’ But as Christians, let us be the ‘and.’