St. Benedict lived 1500 years ago but he knew the problems which people faced fitting everything into a day. There were monks and monasteries but they were often not very ordered or disciplined. Benedict came up with a system of praying seven times in a day, starting in what we would consider the middle of the night and going through to sundown. The prayers he taught his monks were based around the Book of Psalms (The Psalter). Each week the seven daily services used prayers and readings and worked through all 150 Psalms.
It sounds like a lot, and it is far more prayer time than most of us feel we can commit ourselves to, but the way it worked was that Benedict started with prayer. Getting up and going to bed, meals and work, all were plugged in around prayer. This is different from the way most of us schedule our time which is that we look at a busy schedule and then try to squeeze out a few extra moments here and there.
Benedict’s answer to our modern complaint of not having enough time might well have been – well what is it that is so much more important than ordering your life around devotion to God? We might feel defensive and uncomfortable at such a thought but what happens if we allow the question “What is it that I am allowing to push God out?”, then we might find we can refresh and restore our prayer life in ways which, only a few minutes before, seemed impossible.
Life is busy. I envy people with enough discipline to recite the Psalter every week but, when my prayer life is flagging through poor time allocation, I need to resist the temptation to write off the possibility of finding more time with God by angrily saying I am too busy. I am not. I just need to readjust my balance so that my work is rooted and grounded in prayer, and my prayer has space to grow.