In 1995, two friends and I started a faith-sharing group. We began with the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and we made a commitment to spend an hour every day in prayer and meditation. We got together once a week to share what God was saying to us during that daily hour of prayer.
My yes to this commitment was monumental because I had resisted setting aside a regular time for daily prayer and meditation. I was one of those people who said that my prayer life was more fluid and the idea of setting limits—fifteen minutes, thirty minutes, an hour—every day would limit the Spirit. I believed that, too.
Until 1995 when I actually tried it. “Mea culpa,” I said to Sister Ann, one of the people who had suggested this practice to me. She was right; I was wrong.
It turned out that setting aside time for prayer every day did not inhibit the Spirit and actually opened me up to being more present to God throughout the day. It was as if that time each morning predisposed me toward God.I both like and dislike those kinds of insights. Admitting I am wrong did not come easily to me when I was young. (And although I am still not much of a fan, I have had lots of practice owning up to my mistakes, and it comes a bit easier now.)
So, since 1995, I have set aside an hour each morning for prayer and meditation. I journal, read scripture, and pray the Liturgy of the Hours. I call to mind the people who have asked me to pray for them and allow space for God to bring others to mind. I ponder the words and images that catch my attention and sit silently with whatever the hour brings.
In the beginning, I would sometimes find myself looking at the clock, but other days the hour would fly by. It turned out I had a lot to say to God—and God had a lot to say to me, too.I came to cherish that quiet time each morning and eventually got to the point where I could not imagine my day without it.
Sometimes, there seem to be no new insights, just an hour spent in silence; then I would remind myself that no hour devoted to God is ever wasted.
One hour a day, 365 days a year for more than 22 years—that’s a whole lot of hours.
I could have done something else with that time—watched the morning news, cleaned my house, etc.—but I believe my life would be the poorer for it.
I am grateful for my friend Steve, who first suggested praying the 19th Annotation of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, and I often say a prayer of gratitude for his wisdom and guidance. Steve died in 2013, but I still feel his presence during my morning prayer.