Some time ago, God answered my prayers and allowed me to write as part of a devotional team at my church. Out of all of the things that my heart longs to write, I love devotionals the most. I have a meditative spirit, one that longs to rest and dwell in the shadow of the almighty. With a life that included a full-time job, three children and a variety of activities, I somehow found time to write these pieces. God knew it was just what I needed. In a rushed life, to sit in the presence of God and think.
God reminded me in prayer today of one of those pieces. About being inside the very presence of where you are, about putting all else away to experience whatever God has us doing at that particular time. This was particularly true at the time for me with my young children. I was there, but wasn’t. I didn’t understand how to slow down. I didn’t understand how to include the kids in my “God-time.”
I held that thought at bay while I whisked away to serve at the 7:30 a.m. mass. I remained quiet, but attentive. I thought about my family, and my schedule and how God had changed everything. How I longed for my children to long for Him. When I received Him, I remained silent before Him, but I felt my children all around me.
I stole away after mass to grab my family for the next one. 9 am mass, music, more vibrant, not as meditative, but so very festive. Father Peter was here from Ghana, as our priest goes on holiday in Ireland where he is from every July. I am already enchanted by Father Peter’s wondrous accent and the beautiful land from which He came.
The idea was still swirling around inside of me to be present when he started to speak. He was speaking about persevering in prayer, but the homily started to take on a rich twist. Very seriously, the Holy Spirit grabbed a hold of Him and said this,
“I love seeing people pray. Since I have been here, I watched people come inside the church all day to pray. That makes me happy. But what I didn’t see was young people. Nobody brought their children.
My brothers and sisters, you must include your children during your prayer time. Don’t go off to pray and leave them behind. When you leave them behind, they are going other places like the internet, when they should be praying with you.
You should be praying with your children. Include them. Show them. Make them a part of your prayer life, don’t isolate them from it.”
These words touched my heart in ways that are hardly explainable. I thought of all of the times since becoming a Christian that I had secluded myself from my family. And I’m not talking about hours that they were in school or sleeping, I am talking about the waking hours.
I remember one time in particular that I needed that quiet time. I raced to 9 am mass. I didn’t want to go with my kids, I just wanted to be alone. I got there twenty minutes early for silent prayer. In the midst of my heightened awareness and feeling the presence of God as I gazed at the crucifix, He told me, “Go home. You must be wherever your children are,” so I did.
And Father Peter’s words were a reminder of that. As God has been reminding me for many months now, get less busy, walk away from this or that and finally quitting my job. In the world, I am going backwards, in God’s economy I am moving forward. And I am reminded yet again that in a family, we cannot live separate, we cannot have individualistic spiritual lives. We are tied to each other. Loving our neighbor and including them means starting in our homes, starting with the little ones.
I have some changes that will be put into place that are on the horizon. Like allowing the kids to use my prayer space in my closet and including them in my rosary, even if it’s for just one Hail Mary. Or maybe when it’s not too late at night, introducing them to Adoration, even for just one minute. They deserve to be part of what God has given me, and there is always time for prayer.
And what changes will you make today? Giving up a prayer meeting for one with your son. Not spending so much extra time at work. Enjoying the sun with your wife because it is shining. Prayer does not have to be on the kneeler of a church, prayer is wherever you are.
For more reading on Being Present you can checkout my devotional that inspired this piece here.