Everything should be a form of prayer

By Fr. Roy Cimagala

WE should do our best to overcome the usual tendency of ours to fall into some form of dichotomy, dividing our life mainly into 2 parts—one for prayer, our relation with God, and another for work, our involvement in the things of the world or our temporal affairs.

We only have one life, and it’s a life that essentially should be an active participation in the life of God, since we have been created to be his image and likeness. Though our life has many parts, many dimensions, many aspects, and each one requires specific treatment, we should not forget that all of them comprise one and the same life. They have to be blended and made to work according to one same spirit—the spirit of God.

We are reminded of this basic truth about ourselves in that gospel episode about the two sisters, Martha and Mary, where the former complained to Christ about the latter for apparently not helping her in some tasks of hospitality. (cfr. Lk 10,38-42) That was when Christ told Martha that only one thing is necessary and that Mary, her sister, who was contemplating on Christ, was doing the right thing and it would not be taken away from her.

The mistake of Martha was to consider her tasks of hospitality not as a form of prayer but simply as some practical work that needed to be done. She failed to elevate her work into prayer. That was why she felt uncomfortable to see her sister apparently doing nothing by simply putting herself before Christ, listening to him.

The main point of the gospel is that we are supposed to be contemplative souls. That is to say that no matter what we are doing, no matter what condition we may be in, we should not lose touch with God.

That’s obviously not an easy thing to do, but we have precisely our whole life to cultivate that kind of lifestyle. And we have been given all the means so that such ideal can be achieved by us. We should just do our part.

The story of the sisters, Martha and Mary, therefore offers us a precious lesson on always giving priority to prayer, the one thing necessary in life, no matter how many and urgent our other concerns are during the day. It urges us to make everything a form of prayer.

The immediate basis for this truth is what Christ himself said: “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16,26) That’s because prayer is like the breathing and the heartbeat of our spiritual organism, of our soul. Just as we continue to breathe and just as our heart continues to beat even while we are unconscious in our sleep, so should our prayer be.

To be sure, this is possible and doable, because praying does not even need a bodily organ for it to be done. It is a spiritual operation that can transcend the use of our bodily faculties. It’s a matter of attitude, of belief, which we can always have even if it is not expressly articulated.

As such, it can be done in any situation—while we are working, playing, resting, etc. But it would be good that we spend some time doing nothing other than praying, directly engaging God in a loving conversation, because that would help us to be prayerful in all our other activities and situations in life.

Email: roycimagala@gmail.com