“For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be” (Matthew 6:21).
There are 24 hours in a day, about 8 of which are spent sleeping, leaving us with 16 hours for prayer, work, family time and recreation. Many of us are “slaves” of the workday and have no choice but to work 8 hours a day, leaving us 8 hours for prayer, family time and various activities.
How do we spend that extra time we have? What is the first item on the to-do list to be erased when something comes up during that time? Where are our priorities?
Or as Jesus would say it, “where is your treasure?”
As I have quoted before, Jim Beckman in his book God, Help Me: How to Grow in Prayer observed the following:
“The way we spend our time tends to reveal what we place value on. One author I read on this topic observed with amusement that no one ever died of hunger because of not having time to eat. There are things we do with our time every day, and if we track our activity, we’ll see what is truly important to us. If prayer is something we place value on, we’ll make time for it."
If know our priorities, it is easy to say “no” when work or a friend calls and wants to interrupt your family or prayer time. However, when we don’t know our priorities and don’t take a second to think about them, our life is overrun with busyness. We end up going through the whole week and have not prayed or even seen our family before they go to bed.
Does it have to be that way? Does prayer or family life always have to be on the chopping block, the first item on today’s schedule that is crossed off or rescheduled?
As an experiment, write down the number of hours you devote to each section of your life: personal, family, vocation (ex. marriage), prayer, work, recreation.
When something comes up, what is given priority? What do I cross off and deliberately make room for?
If you are not satisfied with your current list of priorities, make a new one. Write down what you want to be the case when you look at your life. Here are some thoughts:
- First of all, we should devote ourselves to prayer, our own spiritual life and living a life of virtue. If we do not, we become like a “channel” instead of a “reservoir.” Water goes in and out of a channel, but water in a reservoir remains and overflows. Saint Bernard put it this way:
“If you are wise, you will be reservoirs and not channels.…The channels let the water flow away, and do not retain a drop. But the reservoir is first filled, and then, without emptying itself, pours out its overflow, which is ever renewed over the fields which it waters.” (The Soul of The Apostolate by Dom Jean-Baptiste Chautard)
Prayer is what drives us and animates our vocation in life. As the saying goes, “the family that prays together stays together” and if I personally do not pray, how can I be a model to my children?
Let us build our house on the rock of virtue and prayer so that everything will be able to stand the test of time.
- Secondly, we need to be firmly rooted in our vocation. That could be the married life, priesthood, consecrated life, or a person could be currently discerning which path God is calling him/her to. Whatever your vocation is, we need to be faithful above all things to the calling that God has given us. What use is it if I make millions of dollars, but my marriage ends in divorce and my children hate me because I am never there? That is why, if you are married, date nights are recommended where you regularly carve time out of your schedule to develop that relationship and create a firm foundation for your family to stand on.
- Last of all comes our work, recreation and hobbies. We will never be successful in our work if we do not have a firm foundation of prayer and are fully committed to our vocation. We must understand that we work in support of our vocation and our responsibilities to our family. Again, what use is it if I have a successful job when I come home to a family in shambles? Or what use is it if I spend all my extra time being engrossed in my hobbies and neglect the duties to my family?
So ask yourself, “where does your treasure lie?” Make a new list of priorities today and post them somewhere you can see. Then, you when need to make a decision as to how best to use your time, you will not have to think for a second.