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  • Writer's pictureFr. Daniel S.J. Scheid SCP

What is Father Dan Thinking? 7-2-23

Prayer, one of the ancients once said, is the hardest work for a follower of Jesus. Whenever we stop to pray – whether it’s at a scheduled time or at a moment’s notice – the devil works to defeat our efforts. We become distracted, or we claim we can’t spare the time, or something that seems far more important pops up that we have to attend to right now. And prayer, which is when we stop to recall and give thanks for God’s enduring presence and love, gets put on the back burner, or never makes it to the stovetop at all.


This is often true for me. Here’s an example: at my previous parish, my study had two doors. One led to the busy parlor, the other to a side chapel, which was a perfect place to pray. Rarely, however, did I take advantage of that quiet, sacred space. While at my desk, I found there was always one more sentence to type or commentary to read or form to file or call to make or email to send. And then, before I knew it, it was time for my next appointment. To combat this, I bought myself a kitchen timer and would set it to ring after a half hour or forty-five minutes, pledging that when the bell went off, I would stop whatever I was doing – like a dutiful monk – get up from my chair, go into the chapel, and sit in prayer for five or ten minutes. Except the ticking of the timer drove me to distraction while I tried to work, so I put it into a desk drawer, never to be used again.


Most of the time, I’m simply not disciplined enough to stop and sit with God, to say nothing of the distractions that happen when I do sit. This is one reason why I value scheduled prayer times that are open to you, the members of our congregation, and to the residents in our parish. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer have formal structure; Holy Hour is meant for quiet meditation and private devotion. Because they’re on the calendar and other people are expected to join, I have little choice but to drop what I’m doing and respond to God’s deep desire for my company.


For those times that you cannot join me, know that I hold you in prayer and add your unspoken intentions to mine. God knows what they are, even when I don’t. And I believe there’s genuine value more broadly to our parish community for All Saints’ to be a sacred space where time stops while the rest of the world buzzes along. Often, when a parish resident stops in for the first time, they express both delight at the beauty of our space, and gratitude that we’re open to them and for them.


Perhaps you’ll find a set time and space each day – if only for a minute or few – to respond to God’s deep desire for your company, stop whatever you’re doing, breathe, and pray.

God’s blessings and peace,


Dan+

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