US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Day 38: Thomas Merton

If we really want prayer, we’ll have to give it time.

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Thomas Merton, O.C.S.O.: Give it time
If we really want prayer, we’ll have to give it time. We must slow down to a human tempo and we’ll begin to have time to listen. And as soon as we listen to what’s going on, things will begin to take shape by themselves.

This is what the Zen people do. They give a great deal of time to doing whatever they need to do. That’s what we have to learn when it comes to prayer. We have to give it time . . . The best way to pray is: Stop. Let prayer pray within you, whether you know it or not. (Seeds, edited by Robert Inchausti, Shambala)

Reflection questions

1. What does it mean to you to give time to prayer?

2. Today, take 30 minutes to be fully aware of whatever you need to do, whether that’s cleaning the kitchen, playing with your kids, or going grocery shopping. Instead of letting your mind wander, let yourself be present whereever you are. Notice how it feels. Is that prayer? Does it have something in common with prayer?

Merton (19151968) was a Trappist monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky. He was a peace and civil rights activist, spiritual writer, and one of the most influential contemplatives of the 20th century.