It’s 11:45 p.m. on a Sunday night, and you just laid down to go to sleep. You had planned on going to bed before 10:00 p.m., but there were some things that came up that prevented you from following through on your plan. You’re exhausted and anxious because you have to get up at 5:00 a.m. to prepare for an important meeting that is scheduled for 8:00 a.m.
As soon as you start to doze off, your phone rings. You answer the phone and you immediately recognize the voice on the other end of the line. It’s the voice of a 33-year-old man who you’ve known for three years. You’ve had dinner with him, and you’ve seen him perform miracles. He’s the most loving, compassionate man you’ve ever met. His name is Jesus, and he tells you that he’s in the emergency room at the hospital.
He explains to you that he was severely beaten by a gang of men and that the hospital is going to run some diagnostic tests to rule out any internal injuries. He asks if you are willing to come to the hospital to pray with him for an hour. He says that he would feel better if you were there with him.
You know from previous experience that whenever you go to the emergency room to assist someone, you’re always there for more than an hour. You never feel comfortable leaving after an hour. You always end up waiting for the diagnostic tests to be performed and interpreted, because you want to be there to ask the doctors questions, so you can help the injured person make the right decisions.
You assume that if you go to the hospital to be with your friend, you will end up coming home sometime during the middle of the night. You will then at least be able to get a few hours of sleep. Your concern is that you’ll end up being physically and mentally exhausted, which will hinder your ability to be mentally alert during the meeting.
You know that depending on how well you perform at the meeting, you could get a promotion and a significant increase in pay. If you don’t get the promotion, you’ll be stuck in the same position you’ve been in for the past five years.
Are you going to agree to get out of bed, get dressed, and drive to the hospital to be with your friend.What I just described to you is similar to what our Lord asked his friends to do on the night he was arrested. While he hadn’t been beaten up by a gang of men, he knew that he was about to be brutally tortured and murdered by a gang of men.
Here’s what Saint Matthew said about Jesus and his request for help from his friends:
Then Jesus went with them to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and agitated. Then he said to them, “I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and stay awake with me.” And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not what I want but what you want.” Then he came to the disciples and found them sleeping; and he said to Peter, “So, could you not stay awake with me one hour? Stay awake and pray that you may not come into the time of trial; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” Again he went away for the second time and prayed, “My Father, if this cannot pass unless I drink it, your will be done.” Again he came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. So leaving them again, he went away and prayed for the third time, saying the same words. Then he came to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? See, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us be going. See, my betrayer is at hand.” Matthew 26:36-46
How do you think Jesus’s friends felt for the rest of their lives about their failure to provide the support and comfort that he requested from them? How are you going to feel when you face our Lord at the end of your life and he says to you, “Why could you not pray with me for at least one hour each day?”
If I were to suggest to you that you should be praying at least an hour every day, how would you react?
Would you immediately tell me how busy you are and why it’s impossible for you to commit to praying 60 minutes every day?
Would you think I’m crazy for suggesting that you dedicate such a significant amount of time each day to pray to God?
It just so happens that if you attend Mass, pray a rosary, and engage in spiritual reading for 15 minutes every day, then you’ve completed an hour of prayer. You’ve also achieved something that less than five percent of the Catholic population accomplish each day.
Now, of course, it takes time for you to get in your car and drive to church, and then return home (or to work) after Mass. But it also took time for the disciples to walk to the Garden of Gethsemane, so the actual daily hour of prayer does not include travel time.
Is it unreasonable for God to ask you to pray for an hour each day? We know that Jesus wanted his disciples to pray with him for an hour. Wouldn’t he expect the same from you and me?
Are you busy? If someone asked you that question, how would you respond? You would probably say that you are very busy.
If you are a busy person, then according to Saint Francis de Sales, you should pray an hour each day. Here’s what he said: “Every one of us needs a half an hour of prayer each day, except when we are busy — then we need an hour.”
What are you going to say at the end of your life if our Lord asks you if you prayed an hour each day? If you were to respond like most people, you would say, “I didn’t know you expected me to pray an hour every day.”
He would then probably follow up by asking, “How much time did you think you should pray each day?”
Can you honestly say that of the 24 hours God gives you each day that an hour is too much?