My Life with Asterisks

SwimmingThe Olympics are over…. alas. I have to tell you, I watched every moment of the Rio Swimming that I could. US Swimming, not expected to be all that strong, was amazing – record numbers of gold and total medals. There were a few races that had me on the edge of my seat. It was so much fun. That being said, I can totally beat Michael Phelps.*

All these years after “back in the day,” I still get up and most mornings I am there at 5:30 am swim practice. Why? I have to stay in shape if I am gonna’ keep ahead of Phelps.* Sure, I would like an extra hour or so of sleep, or maybe be able to stay up a little later the evening before. But the basic reason I get up so early is because I am intentional about having some semblance of a balanced life and that includes physical exercise – and beating Michael Phelps.* Once I am back at the parish, the course of the day may go as planned…or not, but I am free to respond without wondering if I can squeeze in a workout later in the day. It is liberating, even if a little bleary-eyed.

Being intentional is an essential and intrinsic part of what it means to be a disciple of Christ. Discipleship, spiritual maturity, or however you would wish to describe being whole and complete as a Christian, is not an accident. Seeking God speaks of intentionality — the believer who desires to know God in a deeper way and strives toward that goal. When Jesus invited disciples to follow Him, it was a call to intentionally seek Him, to know Him, and to live for Him. This involves spending regular time with Him. Time without asterisks.

Worship at Mass, individual prayer, Bible Study, private reading and reflection, journaling – these are but a few of the intentional ways of seeking a deeper relationship with God. Hopefully, coming to Mass is intentional in that you prepare and participate in the Divine Worship, but it is only an hour or two out of 168 during a week. What about the other 167 hours or so? How do you intentionally seek out God? How much time is given to God? Add it up. I think you will be surprised.

Surveys indicate that women are more likely than men to pray outside of Mass. About 50% of people say they set aside a point in the day for intentional prayer a few days a week. 30% report intentional prayer between weekly and monthly. The remaining 20% report rarely to never being intentional about prayer. How about you? Or how about me? Am I as intentional about prayer as I am swimming? I am, but then I also have the benefit of a communal prayer life with my Franciscan brothers that frames and sets a rhythm for the day. In between I have my own prayer and reading.

So what is your plan for intentionally seeking God? What is your plan to plan? It has been said that if we aim at nothing, we will hit it every time. The same is true for prayer. If we are aimless in our prayer-life, we will pray randomly, at best.You want to be able to say that “Yes, I have a wonderful prayer life.” May your prayer life be asterisk free.

* Using flippers, with a serious head start, and if he uses one arm only.

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