When Prayer Is Wrong!

Picture of by Matthew Leonard
by Matthew Leonard
The Art of Catholic with Matthew Leonard

Is there ever a time when you shouldn’t be praying? Yes! (Whaaaaaat?)

No, I haven’t gone to the dark side. Allow me to clarify, because this is very important.

When I first really dove into a life of deep prayer a few years ago, I was hardcore. I went to the adoration chapel near my house five times a week on average, and would spend about an hour every time I went. And in many ways it was awesome. I grew tons. (I might have even started to glow.)

When I wasn’t able to make it to the chapel, I would pray at home. And frankly, there were times when I would separate myself from my family to engage in what I considered my “necessary” prayer time. And that’s a problem. I had forgotten a very important point about the life of prayer made by St. Francis de Sales in his classic “Introduction to the Devout Life“:

“The practice of devotion must also be adapted to the strength, activities, and duties of each particular person…Is it fitting for a bishop to want to lead a solitary life like a Carthusian?…For a skilled workman  to spend the whole day in church like a religious?…Would not such devotion be laughable, confused, impossible to carry out?”

I am a married man with five children (so far). If I ignore my duties as a husband and father (e.g. changing diapers, going to work, playing with the kids, etc…), I’m not living my vocation appropriately.

I’m not a monk. (I’m certainly not a nun.) Yes, I still go to adoration multiple times a week and I still pray at home all the time. Prayer will always be a top priority in my life because I know I can’t get to heaven without it, and I want to draw as close to God as possible. But I had to change my ways. I had to recognize my state in life and act accordingly. Thanks to de Sales, I don’t put off my “earthly” duties anymore in order to pray like someone (or something) I’m not.

The Catholic life is an integrated life. Our natural and “supernatural” lives must work together. We must maintain our duties to those things in life to which God has called us.  So if you’re needed for something that is part of your state in life, pause your rosary or novena and go do it. Just don’t forget to get back to it when the right time comes. In fact, you’ll find that an ordered life of prayer helps you carry out those duties even better!

God bless and keep striving for sainthood!


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