Out of the corner of my eye, I see a small flicker of color as my phone lights up with a text message. I pick it up and slide my finger across the screen to reveal a message from one of my friends.
So I think my grandma just had a stroke. Please pray!
I send back a response that I will.
Then I pause the song that’s streaming through my headphones, close my eyes, and fold my hands.
Two years ago, I would have never considered stopping amidst my work to talk to God. After telling my friend I’d say a prayer, I would have probably just put the phone down and let the request fade. But this was before a dear friend of mine taught me the importance of prayer- and more importantly, the importance of praying in the moment.
I went to Catholic school for 12 years of my life. I was raised by two faithfully married Catholic parents and have always been surrounded by spiritual people. I had religion class all the way up through 8th grade and studied theology in high school. And then I chose my college because if its Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM). So yeah, I’m a Jesus Freak. And no, the concept of ‘prayer’ is nothing new to me.
I was raised praying for friends, family members, strangers, enemies, the president, classmates, teachers, etc. The list goes on. Every night before bed, my siblings and I would list off our special intentions and it got to the point where we wouldn’t even think about the words coming out of our mouths. In mass, it was the same idea. Father would say something about praying for a member of our community and as a congregation we’d recite memorized words. Prayer was just a bunch of repetitive Our Fathers, Hail Marys, and Glory Bes.
One afternoon in the CCM house, a few of us were hanging around after our 3:00 rosary. Typical discussions about school work and weekend plans were taking place when we heard the familiar squeaking of the front door. In walked a girl who asked for Deacon Richard, who greeted her openly.
After a few moments, Deacon brought her over to us and asked us to pray with him. We prayed for the girl and she went on her way. At the time, I didn’t think much of what had happened and it didn’t start to sink in until a few weeks later.
* * *
During one of our free lunch Thursdays the rush had died down and Deacon made his way over to the table I was sitting at. He started chatting with us and found one of our friends was stressing about her exams and things happening in her family life. Some of us were listening to her, offering supportive advice. And that’s when Deacon decided right then and there that we would pray for her.
“What better time to pray for someone than right now, when they need it most?”
So we set down our cups of lemonade and bowed our heads. Deacon spoke to God from the depths of his heart and for the first time, I really listened. Because there we were, in the middle of lunch, clustered in a crowed of chattering college students, praying. It didn’t even matter what was going on around us or what we were doing. There were no strict rules to this ‘prayer’ thing. It was just in the moment.
From then on, I took on the personal challenge of praying in the moment. Whenever there was a need for prayer, I’d stop whatever I was doing and pray amidst the panic and worry. It’s been over two years since I started. And you know what? It’s a pretty awesome thing to do.
Thank you, Deacon Richard, for instilling this in me and repeating the importance of it to us over and over and over again. I hear your voice pushing me to drop what I’m doing each time someone asks me to pray for them. After all, why shouldn’t I?
What could possibly be more important than talking to God right now?
You taught me that.