Pray for clarity of purpose. Then do something about it.

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – Gospel reading Mark 1:29-39

I love that the Gospels remind us that Jesus prayed. “Rising very early before dawn, he left and went off to a deserted place, where he prayed.”

There is so much we can learn from this – little details that can enrich our own experiences in prayer. Jesus started his day with prayer. Jesus prayed alone. Jesus prayed in a quiet place without any distractions. Jesus prayed in nature, in the midst of God’s creation rather than man’s creation. He emerged from his prayer with a clear sense of his purpose. And with this renewed clarity of calling, he did something. He moved forward and acted decisively.

We are fueled by an ongoing cycle of stop and go. Reflect and pursue. Listen and respond. The only way to live optimal spiritual lives is to keep moving along this cycle.

It’s so easy to get caught in one side or the other. Sometimes I have such a fulfilling prayer experience that I find myself stuck in reflection and contemplation, with no motivation to move forward, to work, or to actually be there for the people who need me. I just want to sit and forever be immersed in the feeling that Jesus is near. Other times, I get lost in the the go-go-go of my daily responsibilities, one day blending into the other, busying myself with things that are not contributing to my central purpose.

Prayer is so crucial for our clarity of focus. And action is so critical for fulfilling our purpose. Figuring out how to live while seamlessly flowing along this cycle is an art. With practice and persistence, I hope that we can all get closer and closer to mastering this art the way Jesus did.

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