I love spending time by myself in prayer. There’s just something energizing about almost secretly dashing away for a time to be alone with God. It’s not something I get a lot of these days, what with three hard-working children absorbing much of my thoughts and energy. And as much as I love and find joy in it, I’ve noticed how forgetful and negligent I’ve become in terms of caring for my soul with no excuse except distractions.
Opportunities to Pray
I always feel grateful when my mom comes to visit. She lives a couple provinces away, (in Canadian, that’s a 12.5-hour drive, no stops) so I do not get the blessing of seeing her on a regular basis. She responded positively to taking the kids to their afternoon/evening activities one bright day, and this left me free to do … well, a hundred things! No — a million! Or so it felt. My heart was set on a couple activities. Before I even got into them, I got the strong urge to go for a rosary walk. Quite simply, it’s just a walk where I say a Rosary. Or two. And therefore, I was out the door in no time, tangled rosary mixed up in my mitts (it’s been cold).
Without any extraordinary events taking place, my walk ensued; a simple walk and time to say a couple rosaries. I came home and felt extremely fortunate to have had the freedom to go out, by myself, and enjoy a walk while praying. Joy enveloped me at the opportunity I had to run out the door so last minute to enjoy the walk and time with God.
But then the feelings of doubt started pressing in:
“Well, sure, it’s nice, but shouldn’t you be praying without ceasing?”
“Why can’t you include your children in your prayer time and offer up any sufferings during that time?”
“Shouldn’t you be more thankful for the times you can do it throughout your day when it’s busy and your attention is distracted?”
“Your elation at having time to pray by yourself only points to your lack of substantial prayer life when you have your family near you.”
These thoughts brooded over me and brought me low. In fact, they still bother me. Especially how they kept coming up, over and over. Am I really that bad when I have my kids with me? Why don’t I pray more with them throughout the day? I must just be being completely ungrateful for my everyday opportunities.
I was nudged into reflection and I’m convinced the Holy Spirit was not behind these thoughts. These thoughts have tried to strip away the joy and wonder that spending that time with God gave me. While there is truth to them (oh, how I know that truth that is mingled in with them), their purpose was to take away my satisfaction of spending time with the one who loves me. Despite the element of truth in them, they were not brought forth to bring me closer to God. The aftermath of feelings is how I know that they were from the devil: feelings of doubt, dissatisfaction, frustration, regret. These are not the fruits of the Spirit!
Contrast these to how I felt when I arrived home: joy, wonder, gratitude, peace. It is clear (retrospectively) the origins are not from God. Despite my failings in ordinary life, I am free to experience the fruits of the Spirit from time in prayer. And I know this is not the only time I have felt that regret – but it has never been because of prayer time alone, just circumstantial things occurring around it.
What Do We Do?
If you have been given a gift of prayer time alone, it is okay to find unwavering joy in it! It is okay that you feel a type of elation at being able to do so. We are in an intimate relationship with Christ — getting that alone time with him is hard to do sometimes. It is similar to that relationship with out spouse: some seasons are unusually busy and so we relish that time alone. It does not mean that we should regret it or think it’s wrong to have satisfaction in that time because we don’t do more during other times. And in the same breath, we know we can also look for more opportunities to connect.
God has called us by our names — do not doubt his great love for us each personally! It can only serve to build us up and bring us closer to him. Do not doubt the joy he has given you and tell those doubting thoughts to take a hike next time they show up. Doubt need not crush your joy!
How do you feel when you can spend alone time with God?
Copyright 2018 Jane Korvemaker