As the weather grows warmer and the school year draws to a close, college students start scrambling to finish semester projects, study for exams, and finalize summer plans. Caught up in the hectic whirlwind that so often accompanies this time of year, it can be easy to let our prayer lives fall to the side as we focus on all the urgent things that demand our attention. But instead of losing track of our priorities, let’s remember why prayer is so important and look for ways to make it part of our everyday lives.
Sometimes it is tempting to make excuses by telling ourselves that we are just going through an especially busy phase, and when our lives calm down a little, we will have more time to pray. After this tough project is finished, or as soon as this sports season ends, or next semester when our schedule is easier, we will get back into a regular prayer routine. But if we stop to think about our future, we will probably realize that life is not going to get less busy after college. We will simply have new things to fill our time. Classes and extracurricular activities will be replaced with a family and a job, which will be just as demanding as college is now. Prayer helps us maintain a strong relationship with God, and that is something we should never compromise. We need to make prayer a part of our daily lives now, so that we are used to finding time to pray every day, no matter how busy our current or future stages of life may seem.
My own personal experience has taught me that when I make Christ the top priority in my life, everything else seems to fall into place. Some days, I am so bogged down with things to do, I am tempted to shove my prayer life to the side. When I do so, I always continue to be overwhelmed. But when I take time out of my crazy schedule to spend a little while with God, somehow everything else manages to get done. And that time I spend in prayer helps me to regain my focus on what is really important, washing away my stress and anxiety, and bringing me peace.
God will never be outdone in generosity. If we are generous with our time, giving Him not only our surplus but our basic time each day in prayer, He will bless us and provide for us. And it is important to remember that all of our time on this earth is a gift from God. If each minute is a blessing from Him, how we can possibly say that we are too busy to give any back?
Our vocation as students can make long periods of uninterrupted prayer difficult, and there are plenty of other important things that demand our attention. How can we add regular prayer to our already-crowded lives? One way to make the most of our time in college is to fit prayer in between the other activities in our busy schedules. A free hour between classes or 20 minutes after lunch can become great time for some quiet prayer. If we wait until everything on our “to-do” list for the day has been accomplished, we will likely find ourselves trying to squeeze in five minutes of prayer as we fall asleep. God deserves more than an afterthought at the end of our day, so why not give Him those in-between times in our schedules that would otherwise be filled with pointless internet surfing or idle chatter?
During these last few days and weeks of school, let us make a renewed commitment to daily prayer. As we do this, it might help us to examine our lives and take a look at all the things that fill our time. How many hours each week do we spend browsing the internet, checking facebook, and watching youtube videos? How much time do we spend watching TV or playing video games? While it’s certainly not wrong to spend some time relaxing and having fun, mindless pastimes like these can easily start adding up and consume huge chunks of our life. Restructuring our priorities may allow us to discover time for prayer that we never realized we had. As we make prayer a regular part of our day, we will be better able to hear God speaking in our lives, and this will bring us a sense of peace.
And as we juggle final tests, papers, and projects, peace in our lives is certainly a blessing.
* Catholic News Agency columns are opinion and do not necessarily express the perspective of the agency.