Peter Kreeft: Prayer and Time

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“Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish. John 6:9-11

“We have time and prayer backwards. We think time determines prayer, but prayer determines time. We think our lack of time is the cause of our lack of prayer, but our lack of prayer is the cause of our lack of time.

When a little boy offered Christ five loaves and two fishes, he multiplied them miraculously. He does the same with our time, but only if we offer it to him in prayer. This is literally miraculous, yet I know it happens from repeated experience. Every day that I say I am too busy to pray, I seem to have no time, accomplish little, and feel frazzled and enslaved by time. Every day that I say I’m too busy not to pray, every time I offer some time-loaves and life-fishes to Christ, he miraculously multiplies them and I share his conquest of time. I have no idea how he does it, I know that he does it, time after time.

And yet I resist sacrificing my loaves and fishes to him. I am an idiot. That’s one of the things original sin means: spiritual insanity, preferring misery to joy, little bits of hell to little bits of heaven.

We must restore our spiritual sanity. One giant step in that direction is to think truly about time.
Time is like the setting of a play. The setting is really part of the play, contained by the play, determined by the play. But we often think the opposite: we think the play is contained by the setting. We think that the theme, the meaning, the spirit of the play is in its material setting instead of the other way around…

And since time measures the movements of material bodies, while prayer measures the movements of the soul, time is really in prayer rather than prayer in time. Prayer determines and changes and miraculously multiplies time (the loaves and fishes). But prayer multiplies time only if and when we sacrifice our time, offer it up. There’s the rub. We fear sacrifice…

Eternity is not in the future but in the present. The future is unreal, not yet real. One of the devil’s most ridiculous and successful lies is the idea that we should devote our lives to pursuing and acquiring goods we do not yet have rather than enjoying the ones we do have. This makes us slaves to time, to the unreal future, forever, for “tomorrow is always a day away.”

The first rule for prayer, the most important first step, is not about how to do it, but to just do it; not to perfect and complete it but to begin it. Once the car is moving, it’s easy to steer it in the right direction, but it’s much harder to start it up when it’s stalled. And prayer is stalled in our world.

So stop reading and start praying. Right now.”

Peter Kreeft, professor of philosophy at Boston College, from his blogpost entitled, “Time.”

Do what he says. Take time to pray today. Prayer determines time. It helps us grasp what is real and good and true and right. Prayer multiplies time, but only when we sacrifice time.

Live in this reality regarding prayer and time in life after Lent and you will enjoy what you have now, you will find freedom from slavery to things, your time and capacity for generous living will grow exponentially.

And if you have no idea what I just said, stop reading and start praying, now. You don’t figure it out until you live it out. You must sacrifice time for prayer to discover this experientially.

What better day to start than Palm Sunday. Christ is with you. Christ is with me. He is with us.