Busy and restless easily describes a typical week for me. As a new father of an infant and a full time high school teacher, I’m quite aware of the decline in my prayer life. The days of hour-long prayer periods carved out in the Jesuit novitiate schedule are long gone. The free evenings of bachelor life are past. And the moments my wife and I can go into separate rooms for our own prayer are hard to come by with a new baby. This is why I needed to read Becky Eldredge’s new book, Busy Lives & Restless Souls (to be released in March through Loyola Press). Becky is a friend and Ignatian spiritual director. She’s far ahead of me in the parenting journey with three children, which is why I value the experiences and stories she shares in her writing. Becky has struggled with the busyness and restless feeling life brings us all—whether or not we are parents. If there’s something that’s given me the spark to reinvigorate my prayer life—to be a “busy” pray-er—it’s Becky’s book.
Like the unfolding of one’s spiritual life, her book unfolds naturally, as one acknowledges their restlessness, moves into a deeper identity of Christian life, awakens to God’s love, and amid struggles and joys, discovers the life-changing power of prayer. In fact, throughout the book Becky is very clear that if one does not want to change then one should not pray. Prayer changes your life. It’s risky. She writes:
There are consequences to creating space for prayer in your life. If you are looking to keep your life the way it is, then, please, don’t pray. If you want to stay the person you currently are, then I suggest not making time for prayer in your daily life. Because here’s the reality: If you intentionally show up every day in prayer to be with God, your life is going to change. And guess what else? You are going to change!
Becky took that risk on a busy-person’s retreat in college where she discovered the life-changing gift of praying with Scripture. From that moment on Becky realised that she could find God in the “thin spaces”—that she could pray and encounter God while changing diapers or cooking dinner. Within all of us, she says, is an “interior chapel” where we have access to God. And that encounter with God comes in many forms. Becky uses the stories from her daily life to bring to life various prayer methods. For her, the Examen is central to her spiritual life. She explains how the Examen has helped her to find God in all things, how it helped her become aware of her need for God’s mercy, and how it helps us in discernment. We must bring to God in prayer all the parts of us, even the broken parts.
Busy Lives & Restless Souls truly reveals in one person’s story the joy of the faith and how prayer enflames it. Becky’s background in spiritual direction and giving retreats helps her know the spiritual facets and nuances of different people. She speaks words that are bound to resonate with all of us, opening up the reader to a deeper self-awareness. Each chapter contains practical steps one can take to pray and ends with some relevant reflection questions. This book isn’t meant to be rushed through, but meditated on and applied to your life. It’s a call for busy people everywhere to find rest in God through prayer. I always tell my students that prayer should be easy, because God is never far. Prayer can be a blessed moment of awareness or gratitude or a word of praise. Becky understands this. And this is the message of her book.
I had the privilege of having a conversation with Becky on the God In All Things Podcast. You can listen to that interview here.
Listen to an audio version of this post (which includes my interview with Becky)…