To be human is to have limited strength and endurance. Sometimes what we need to do exceeds those limits. Is there anything that can be done? Well, what did Jesus do? Yes, he was God, but he was like us in every way except sin. This means one of the ways he was like us was in having limited strength. How did he manage it? The truth is, he took time to recharge, through prayer.
Just as an electronic device’s battery gets drained by constant heavy use, so does the strength of human beings, and just as electronic devices need to recharge, so do human beings. How Jesus recharged was to go to a lonely place, such as a mountain or a wilderness, to pray. In Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46, Luke 6:12, we read that he climbed a mountain to pray, sometimes staying all night. In Mark 1:35, he went to a “deserted place” to pray. He did this regularly while crowds were following him [Luke 5:15-16]. Before his crucifixion, he went at night to a garden, Gethsemane, to pray [Mark 14:32]. In each case, Jesus went somewhere where he was not distracted by social interactions, to spend quality time with God his Father.
If Jesus needs to go somewhere private and lonely to pray, so, too, do we. For us, it is both simpler and more complicated to find a quiet place to pray. Simpler, because most of us are not being physically pursued by large crowds of people, though some of us, such as parents with children, may well be physically pursued by little (or not so little) people. But it is more complicated too, because we smartphone users carry our crowds around with us in our pocket.
Our quiet place need not be up a mountain or in a deserted place, it can be in a room in our home. If our home is a busy place, maybe our quiet moments are at night when people are sleeping. Or it need not be at home. Best, though not always possible for many of us, is for our quiet place to be in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Wherever this place of prayer is, we must make it be a place without distraction: phone off. Tablet off. TV off. Radio off. Computer off. Make your own deserted place, where it is only you, and God.
It is OK if this all feels a little uncomfortable. It may feel unnatural, especially if you are an extrovert and prefer being with others rather than by yourself. Do remember you are not alone in that place. God is with you. Share with him how it feels. Listen in the silence for his response. Don’t worry if he is quiet. Don’t worry if you are quiet: don’t feel the need to fill the silence with words. Sometimes it is fine just to be together, not saying anything. Or speak: that is fine too. If you feel you need to say something but don’t have the words, ask him for his. Prayer is not something we do all by ourselves. We do it with God. God knows we’re not perfect and knows we need help, so he helps. If you don’t know what to do, just breathe “Jesus, son of the living God, have mercy upon me, a sinner.”
The most important thing is to do it: make the time and the place for intentional prayer, and pray. It is more important than sleep or exercise. Schedule it and do it. If something comes up, that’s OK, go deal with whatever it is, and pray the next opportunity. Jesus once went with the apostles to a deserted place [Mark 6:31], but there found a huge crowd waiting for him. He did not get upset, but he taught them, and then fed them with his miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. Afterwards, he went up the mountain to pray [Mark 6:46], while the apostles went ahead in the boat. So if a planned prayer time doesn’t work out, that’s OK, life is like that sometimes, for Jesus and for us. Don’t give up, just pray the next chance you get. You need that time of prayer, to recharge, or you will run out of strength and endurance.