“Or else he may find you asleep when he comes suddenly.”

Mark 13:36

Thursday, 3 December 2020

Mark 13:33-37

God is present to us. Our task is to remain alert and watchful so that we might appreciate his presence to us. But sometimes we are found to be less than attentive. In fact, at times, we are simply asleep. We are not wilfully ignoring the Lord, but we have tired ourselves out, or dulled our senses to the point that we cannot perceive him. Whether we are asleep or living like zombies, we all find ourselves overtaken by the cares of the world and the private preoccupations of our egos that we run the risk of missing the Lord’s coming completely.

We can stay alert by being faithful to our prayer. When we pray, we can share the tiredness of the day and the worries of our lives with the one who will most intimately understand us and desires only to console and care for us. Many times people say they fall asleep during prayer. But this is perhaps because we are praying at the wrong time or in the wrong way. We should not feel guilty about this. The Lord know what is in our hearts and may very well be the source of the rest that we need.

Unless we talk to God, we will not befriend or understand God. Those who pray recount how God can often come so suddenly to us in prayer. Much of prayer is waiting, preparing ourselves to listen to God so that we might catch that sudden insight or feeling that we know without a doubt is from God and intended for us uniquely.

Prayer is putting ourselves in God’s presence because God is always with us. It is us who have to shift our perceptions so that we can consciously become aware of God’s presence. When we sleep or allow ourselves to live unawares, we fail to notice God’s presence to us.

Let’s pray today, as we continue to ask for hope, that we might pray and bring ourselves more often into God’s loving presence. One way of doing this is by looking back over our day before we fall asleep. We sometimes call this prayer the ‘Examen’. It is not a judgmental prayer, but rather one of growing awareness for the times we were more, or less, present to God.

Almighty God,

Help me to pray. Help me to remember how much you love me. When my life becomes too much about me, send me a sign of your love for me. Call me back, and let me return to you. As St Augustine said, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Give me your rest, so that when I sleep, it is not the ungrateful sleep of one who does not know you, but the refreshing rest of being deeply loved and cared for.


Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ

Fr Matthew Charlesworth SJ entered the Society of Jesus in 2005 and underwent the usual course of studies in his formation, which took him to such varied places as Canada, France, Ireland, Kenya, Spain, Tanzania, the United Kingdom, the United States, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa. Whilst working at the Institute, Matthew managed the background technical aspects of much of the Institute's work and was involved in the Spirituality work, completing the Advanced Spiritual Directors Training Course and the Spiritual Exercises Training run by the Institute. He is a member of Spiritual Directors International and was also a part-time lecturer in Sacred Scripture at St Augustine College of South Africa. He is currently the Director of Communications for the Jesuits in Southern Africa, based in Lusaka, Zambia.

m.charlesworth@jesuitinstitute.org.za @mcharlesworth
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