Leisure time today is a scarce commodity that most people carefully plan, protect and enjoy.


In addition to vacations and occasional moments of relaxation, there are weekend getaways, special reunions, golf outings, dinners out, shopping trips — all good and healthy occasions for busy people with so much on their plates.

But does God ever get a “weekend” from us?

Do we create a space where God can enlighten us?

Life can be somewhat of a boxing match. We take jabs every day. We may even get knocked down, and getting back up day after day can be tiring. God wants to help us. He is ringside, cheering us on, but at times he rings the bell and beckons us to come to the corner.

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This allows him to splash cool water on our soul, towel down our weary heart, remind us why we are fighting, and strengthen us for the tough rounds ahead.

We take our cars in for regular oil changes and repair. We look at our homes to see what needs to be fixed or enhanced. We certainly try to take of our bodies with a healthy diet and regular exercise. But do we take care of our soul? Do we create a space where God can enlighten us to see how we are conforming to his plan and desires (which, by the way, will always be for our happiness and fulfillment as humans)?

These five prayer tips may be helpful for those of us who are overburdened and seeking a closer relationship with God:

1: Begin the day with a moment of quiet. Ask God for guidance for the day ahead, especially for those moments that you know might be a little more difficult.

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2: On a daily basis, examine your conscience. Try to carve out 5-10 minutes at the end of each day to reflect on what God was asking of you, and see how you corresponded to his plan. Your life is much bigger than the daily grind. This awareness of God’s presence and God’s plan makes everything sacred and meaningful.

3: Read the Scripture daily. The Bible is our road map to heaven and to a peaceful and fulfilled life here on earth. It is chock full of wisdom.

My personal favorites are the four Gospels, as they transmit the actual words and life of Jesus Christ. Read a paragraph, read it again prayerfully and slowly, chew on it for a while, and let these words penetrate your soul and speak to your heart. It’s not about plowing through chapter after chapter, but rather making it an intimate conversation with God, and carefully listening to his very personal and unique message for you.

4: Consider spontaneous prayers. God truly cares about you and he wants to help. Some of our best prayers can simply be a cry from the heart for help. For example: “God, I had a long day at work, my head hurts and there is not much left in the tank. Please strengthen me so I can be the spouse and parent my family needs from me right now.”

Related: The Power of Forgiveness

Or, “God, my kids are really testing my patience! Please calm my heart and allow me to be the kind and gentle mother they need right now.” These prayers will not go unanswered.

5: Start a gratitude journal. Look back on the moments when God was showing his personal love for you, and simply express your gratitude to him for the gift of your life, your faith, your family and your health. It helps to write it down and look back on this journal during the darker moments.

Some of you may be rolling your eyes, saying, “Father Michael, this sounds wonderful, but it is not realistic. I just have way too much going on. Maybe when the kids leave for college or when things calm down at work, perhaps then I will consider making more time for God.”

My answer is: The time is now! This is a small investment that guarantees a huge return.

There is no greater act of kindness and charity you can do for your spouse, your kids and your co-workers than to fill your soul with God’s love.

Recently I returned from my annual eight-day retreat in Edgerton, Wisconsin. It was a time of prayer, reflection and intimacy with God. He spoke to me, encouraged me, and reminded me how much he loves me, and how grateful he is for my service. Like all of you, my schedule is packed full with activities, but I went to the corner and now I am ready to jump back into the ring with enthusiasm.

Please look at your calendar and make some time for God.

Fr. Michael Sliney, LC, is a Catholic priest who is the New York chaplain of the Lumen Institute, an association of business and cultural leaders.