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Episode 9: The Importance of Prayer
21st October 2021 • Encounter Grow Witness • EGW Detroit
00:00:00 00:40:59

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Beth and Fr. Steve discuss why prayer is important in the lives of parish leaders, common challenges of prayer life, and their personal prayer routines.

(0:00) Fr. Steve and Beth discuss the change in seasons, how October is the best month to live in Michigan, and Halloween traditions.

(8:00) The episode theme of 'prayer' is introduced. Fr. Steve and Beth share their personal prayer routines.

(12:16) Fr. Steve explains that the best and simplest definition of prayer "lifting mind and heart to the Lord."

(14:56) Beth discusses the prayer of "Worship," especially praying the Psalms, and how it calibrates our relationship with God. She also shares about her love for the Divine Mercy Chaplet.

(20:45) Fr. Pullis opens up about the challenges of a prayer life, including spiritual dryness.

(27:00) Our hosts explain how important prayer is for people who work in ministry, especially. It starts with just showing up to prayer and putting aside distractions.

(37:30) Fr. Pullis explains that God wants more for you, not just from you. And then best way to receive that from him is in prayer.

Transcripts

Fr. Steve Pullis::

This is the encounter, grow, witness podcast. And we're so glad you're joining us for our October conversation discussion with the wonderful, talented, and awesome, Beth Spizarny. Beth, How are you?

Beth Spizarny::

I'm doing well. How are you?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

I'm doing great, yeah.

Beth Spizarny::

Every month I got all these compliments and these intro. I don't give you any! I can work on that. Maybe next month I'll do the intro.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. You can take the intro next month, then spend a month trying to think of a compliment. But, October might be the best month in

Beth Spizarny::

The best month of the year?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

It might be in Michigan. Like I, just love the fall change in the colors of the trees, the leaves changing and yeah, you know, it's nice. Some people, you know, their minds already thinking towards like, it's going to be cold and the trees are going to be empty. And, we got daylight saving time coming in a couple, in a few weeks. So anyway, but, uh, you know, the main thing about October, especially for you, I'm sure as a mom is, how it ends and it ends with a very important day. So is Halloween big in your house?

Beth Spizarny::

It is big in our house. Yes. Uh, there's a lot of candy in our neighborhood. A lot of candy. We have so much candy, we did not finish last year's candy. Well, we take it away. We feel it's, it's scary to watch them eat all this candy. So we put it up high and then give it down at different moments. But then at some point you start thinking, why am I giving them this? This is not good for them. Wow. So yeah, we still have candy from last year.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Have you seen the Jimmy Kimmel bit that he's done a number of years where he, it's awful. It's awful. No one watch it. Uh, but it, but anyway, he, uh, gets parents to tell their kids that they ate all of their Halloween candy after they've gone to bed. And it's, you know, it's this recording of parents telling kids,

Beth Spizarny::

And then the kids are shocked or something?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. So, you know, it's always a bunch of kids who are throwing a tantrum or crying or sad. And then there's usually one kid who like goes up and hugs his mom and says it's okay, but I don't know if he does it anymore. He did it a few years. It's probably awful. But it is so funny to think about waking up and your mom or dad ate all of your Halloween candy.

Beth Spizarny::

All of it, that would be impressive. Yeah. My husband's family, they put it all into a bowl and then anyone who wants some can have it. That was not my experience growing up. This is my candy. We sort it, we trade it. And my goal is always to be the last one, having candy.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

To make yours last the longest.

Beth Spizarny::

That's correct. Which was no problem for me. Probably still have some of that.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

What is, uh, we'll talk about costumes in a minute, but since we're talking about candy, the best, the premier candy to get in trick or treating?

Beth Spizarny::

That is a good question. I mean, I think the Reese's peanut buttercup is usually at the, at the top. We just happen to have a lot of them in the house already anyway. So I would go with the dots. Nobody likes the dots. I like the dots. They take a long time to eat, which is handy. If I'm doing school work or work work, I can eat one dot for 20 minutes.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

The dots are like the candy equivalent of the nickel that you get. Right? Do you ever get nickels, or a toothbrush or pretzels?

Beth Spizarny::

But because no one likes the dots, I take them, no one cares, so I'll go with the dots.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Growing up in a big family, like finding something you like that no one else likes, that's a huge thing. So for me that was a big thing. Like, this is the thing I like and no one else. So it was three Musketeers for me. I really liked three Musketeers. And I think what I liked about it was I didn't have to worry about anyone stealing it

Beth Spizarny::

Because they're not that good.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Uh, I've grown, grown to like them. Yeah. Um, but, uh, costumes,

Beth Spizarny::

Costumes. Okay.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Did you dress up growing up?

Beth Spizarny::

I did. I did. And my favorite embarrassing story I used to, when I would do youth ministry, if I went into the schools to make an announcement, the rule was, I had to tell an embarrassing story before I could make my announcement. They love this rule and I liked it because they would listen to my announcement. So that's fine. But yeah, in fourth grade I went as garbage, garbage. This is a terrible idea. I can't believe my parents let me go as garbage. I wore it to school and everything

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Did you go as a bag?

Beth Spizarny::

A garbage bag with paper in it. The only thing that made it slightly less embarrassing, which is hard to imagine is that my best friend also went as garbage and she wore sweatpants and taped garbage to herself. Do you know how many parents failed for this to happen? I mean, I must've been very passionate to talk my mother into this. I don't know. How about you? Did you also go as garbage?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

That's a heck of a friend to be in garbage solidarity.

Beth Spizarny::

She was more than in solidarity. She had the real garbage with her.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

She one uped you. Um, you know, I don't remember any costumes I had as a kid. I do. Yeah. I'm kind of lame with that kind of stuff. We had those cheap little, costumes with the little string and the mask and the string would break.

Beth Spizarny::

With the rubber nose or something?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

No, it was a full mask, but it just had like the cheapest string that went around your head and it always broke. And so like the third house in, I don't have my mask. I remember it always being cold and rainy.

Beth Spizarny::

It's always cold and rainy. That's Halloween.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

So, and we didn't have like costumes over the coat. So we had our coat over our costumes. It was, you know, I just remember, like, this is just about getting candy.

Beth Spizarny::

You have to earn the candy. That's the deal. It's cold. It's rainy. You got to get out there. Be brave show your perseverance.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. Yeah. And I will say we went through high school. I was with a group in high school and we would go, I think we went trick or treating most of the time, but there was a girl in our class who had kind of a Halloween party. We all went over her house, just kind of hung out. And so I remember Halloween in high school being a lot of fun. Um, but I think now I don't know. Do high schoolers still do?

Beth Spizarny::

I think they do still do Halloween parties. Although I'm slightly more out of touch now that I'm not in youth ministry, but I think so, but for me, Halloween was all about being a little kid. And our rule was we would make our route weeks beforehand. Oh, we were very intense. And if you're going to go in our group, you're going to run from house to house. No whining, no whatever. And none of those little pails come on, pumpkin pails. Did you come to win or did you come to do two houses and go home? So yeah, pillowcases. Absolutely. Wow. So I've taught my children the correct way. Although now I'm not letting them have the candy because it's too scary. You look at this mountain of candy. I don't want them to eat that.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Wow. You know, uh, Ron, our excellent producer, I heard was a ghost every year for Halloween. Even till this year, every year, he dresses up as a ghost.

Beth Spizarny::

That explains his costume now, I didn't wanna say anything.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Dresses up as a ghost, every Halloween of his life. So anyway, fun fact about Ron there, for you.

Beth Spizarny::

I've been trying to sell my kids this year on the banana costume. Oh, it's not working. They're like, that would be so embarrassing mom. So I was trying, I've talked about it so much. I thought, well, maybe I need to get the banana costume, but I looked at it. I'm not funny enough to do a banana costume. I got a wig, but like, I don't think I can do it. It's too ridiculous. You can pull off the banana costume, Fr. Pullis.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Uh, yeah. Then if you were it, you could be the top banana.

Beth Spizarny::

I could be the top banana.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

All right. Well, let's not just talk about Halloween and wonderful fall stuff. Let's talk about things that are far more important than, than that.

Beth Spizarny::

Let's talk about prayer.

Beth Spizarny::

Let's talk about prayer.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

When we talk about prayer, let's, just kind of go into what it actually looks like to pray and what your prayer, my prayer looks like. Um, Beth, do you wanna talk about what prayer looks like for you?

Beth Spizarny::

I just think it's so important to talk about. I used, when I was in youth ministry, I used to tell people that the most important decision I ever made in my life was to surrender my life to Jesus Christ. And the second most important decision I ever made in my entire life was the commitment and the choice to pray every day, because I think that's really where you start to see change and that's really where things come alive. So, yeah. So for me, I think, I've got a big strong morning prayer habit. Um, and I also have a great love of journaling and scripture. So every day I, there's prayers that I say every morning. I love the Nicene creed.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Do you pray the Nicene every morning?

Beth Spizarny::

I actually pray the Apostle's creed every morning. Cause Saint Cyril of Jerusalem in the early RCA was really serious about it and he made them promise to say the apostles creed every single day. Wow. And so I, when I read that in my grad school, I was okay. All right, St. Cyril, you got it. So I have every morning

Fr. Steve Pullis::

I'm on team Cyril of Jerusalem.

Beth Spizarny::

Yeah. There you go. It's the first thing. Um, so the, the apostles creed, the pardon, prayer from Fatima, just love this prayer of praying for people who don't know and love and adore Him and praying that they would and praying. Yeah. Um, and then the morning offering, but mostly I think the daily mass readings praying with those, yeah. I just really love reading scripture and praying with that and just sitting with it. Um, but it can be hard to find the time as a mom when I had newborns and when I was pregnant, I found it. I was so anxious about not getting that sacred time that no one could disturb me. And when you've got a newborn, there is no sacred time. There is none. Um, and so I've had to like learn to adjust in a different way as well to different seasons of life. So, but yeah, for me, my favorite thing is the morning, big, strong morning prayer habit, I think beginnings matter.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

So we're going to, we're going to pry into this a little bit, like, is that first thing in the morning before kind of getting up, brushing your teeth?

Beth Spizarny::

I brush my teeth before

Fr. Steve Pullis::

And floss and all that,

Beth Spizarny::

You know, in the morning flossing, I don't know. I think once a day would be enough. Uh, yeah, get up, brush teeth, go pray. My favorite is if everyone is asleep. Usually that happens, but with little kids you can't guarantee and you can't be grouchy with them. Although sometimes I am. I'm sorry,

Fr. Steve Pullis::

But kind of getting up before, before everybody. Yeah. Well it's still very quiet. Yep.

Beth Spizarny::

Okay. Darkness of the morning in the quiet. Yeah.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. That's great. Yeah. Um, living here at sacred heart seminary, uh, we have, we're really blessed that, uh, we often have adoration in the morning before mass. So generally for me, I get up at five 30 and I'm kind of do my morning routine of, you know, shower and shave and brush my teeth. I, have flossed

Beth Spizarny::

Note the wording there, listeners, note the wording I have flossed.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. Um, and then, you know, being in the chapel to pray, uh, you know, I usually pray my morning offering, which I think is just a beautiful prayer of kind of consecrating the day to the Lord,

Beth Spizarny::

It makes the whole day a prayer, every action

Fr. Steve Pullis::

. Um, consecrating that, there's a number of saints. I ask their intercession. So I built a little team of 16

Beth Spizarny::

16!

Fr. Steve Pullis::

I have kind of a big squad. I just, you know, I just say pray all this through the intercession. And then I kind of named them. I named them all. Yeah. So, so that's part of my prayer and then prayers for the holy father, the, our father hail Mary and glory be. Um, so pray that, um, you know, as priests, we make a promise to pray the liturgy of the hours, which are, uh, the kind of psalms and the collective prayer of the church that priests and religious pray. Um, I found that to be really beautiful. Uh, it's something to enter into now. Sometimes it's challenging. We'll talk about challenges in prayer in a minute, but, um, you know, when I think about what prayer is, I think about it as lifting my mind and heart to the Lord, as half of it, that it's lifting myself to the Lord and saying like, okay, Jesus, I am focused on you or holy spirit I'm focused on you.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

And I want to give you my attention as best I can. Right. I put away other things I'm thinking about or other things that creep up and just say, okay, Lord, I want to turn to you. And for me often that's bringing things to him. Um, some of my work as a seminary for Mader bringing that to him, the men or the things I have to do and saying, oh, okay, Lord, like, I want this to be for you. And I want you to be the guiding principle for it. Um, you know, I want you to show me how to do it. Uh, sometimes it's bringing concerns to him and other times it's just kind of like bringing either successes I've had or joys in my life and saying like, Lord, I, I just, I want to see this in your eyes. So I want to bring it to you.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Right. This, either sometimes I feel like I preached well and I was like, this is what I should have said. Or, I did some a situation really well, like, okay, Lord, I want to bring it to you. Not in a like, Hey, look at me, but in a way that says like, God, this was for you and I want, I want it to be for you. And so I bring it to you, but then, you know, to me, the most important part of prayer, isn't what I'm doing. It's what God does in response to that. So, so much of prayer for me is trying to be quiet to like, Lord, I bring this to you now. I want to hear what you say to me and he can speak, you know, God can speak to us in the silence of our prayer and speak right to my heart.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Often he speaks to me through scripture. As you're talking about, and I'm sure that's what you're talking about too. Right? Like, okay, God wants to say to me a word of encouragement about, you know, don't be discouraged about difficulties or challenges, or he wants to say to me, a word of challenge, like, you know, I've called you to be great and don't be mediocre. Don't accept mediocrity. Um, or I need you to be my instrument in this situation. I know you're uncomfortable, or I know you don't know how to do it, just go and do it. Um, so, you know, prayers that dialogue for me, that kind of bringing myself to the Lord and then letting him, letting him take, take me where he wants to take it.

Beth Spizarny::

Ah, this is beautiful. I really relate to St. Therese and just this littleness that bringing the Lord, our weaknesses and bringing the Lord, the sorrows and the worries, and just like a child bringing all these little things to the father. So yeah, I love that. I think one of the other beautiful things in, prayer is just the prayer of worship. Um, whether it's song or just prayers, reminding and recalling who God is and announcing it out loud. I find those brings so much freedom. Lord, you are the lamb of God. You are our refuge. You are the king of Kings. Like whenever I prayed that way. And I always challenge people to bring in their prayer that way. And I've got to like, get back to it, but I just find that it, it changes the whole tenor of your prayer because you're remembering who you're speaking to, you know? Oh, that's right. It's not, it's not like maybe you can help me with these things. You can definitely move and do.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

No, that's beautiful. You know, there's so many prayers in the church that are like that. The liturgy is often, the mass is often like, and it's kind of funny to think about, right. We're telling God who he is. Right, right. It's not like he forgot

Beth Spizarny::

He's well aware. We don't know though.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

But it calibrates the relationship that we're meant to have with him of utter dependency, complete trust confidence that our problems are not either too big for him or irrelevant to him, so that he can handle them and he cares. And he wants to, so kind of speaking that out loud you're right. That is, that is a beautiful way to pray. Just telling God who he is and the prayers of the liturgy can be that way. Um, that I find really, you know, especially the Eucharistic prayer where we're just kind of speaking the account of redemption, um, that is so, so necessary for us to remind ourselves who God is.

Beth Spizarny::

Yeah, yeah. I think, yeah, it's beautiful.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Are there other prayers? So like for me, praying the rosary every day and I had met some days I don't do it because I get, you know, there are other things I wind up spending time in prayer on. Um, but I've really kind of made a commitment to say, that's what I want to be doing. Um, so praying the liturgy of the hours and the rosary for me. And then as a priest, I offer mass everyday, which is a prayer. Um, but are there other prayers that for you, like, this is what I pray every day.

Beth Spizarny::

Yeah. I really love the divine mercy chaplet um, the last couple of months I've prayed at every day during lent and I've wanted to extend it beyond that, but then also as a mom, sometimes I can get a little too. I, yeah, well, we're not, we're not to the challenges yet, so we're just going to stay with it. But I've really, really loved the divine mercy chaplet I really love it. I especially love that the opening prayer, you expire Jesus, but the source of life gushed forth for souls, whenever I encounter a moment of despair or like darkness, or either, either in my family or in the world, or at work where I'm like, oh, what a mess. I just go back to that. You expire Jesus, but it just brings me so much hope. Um, so I really love the divine mercy Chaplet and I also really do love the rosary.

Beth Spizarny::

I feel like I'm, I'm building up as we're, I'm finishing the new Testament in a year and I'm finishing that. Um, I feel like I'm moving towards a rosary every day for the next year, but I don't know yet, but I just feel like the quietly saying like, we're going to do this. Okay. Um, so I really love those two. I think for me in prayer, generally as a child, I learned the traditional prayers. And I think as I, like, I thought, okay, so you just say them. And then as I grew up a little became a teenager, I think I started to find those prayers really empty or shallow or like, yeah. Like we don't like, like when you, when you see married, people say, I love you and they're really just saying, get milk at the store. You know, like that's kind of the tone of the expression, you know?

Beth Spizarny::

So I, I, yeah, so, but then when I was a teen, I fell in love with spontaneous prayer, charismatic prayer, like just, we're just like casual, passionate from the heart, you know, exploding out of your heart prayer. And now that I've grown up as a woman, I've really come to appreciate the depth of traditional prayer, the depth of these prayers that the saints have written that have been revealed. Um, and I find myself going back to them more, the litany of humility, the litany of trust, these are just such gifts, um, that both inform and guide me in prayer. So I, I do love some traditional prayer. That's great.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. Are there any prayers you don't like

Beth Spizarny::

Prayers I don't like?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Prayers you don't have a devotion to? So like other people are like, I really love this, you're like eh.

Beth Spizarny::

Some, some of the language of the, thees and thous, some of the more like medieval sounding intense ones I have a harder time with. Um, and then any prayer that really sounds like we're looking to the Saint as though they are, God, I don't like those. Um, and also any prayer that really sounds like, okay, here's a prayer. I really don't. I don't like prayers that are not prayers that are actually just a reflection. I don't know how many times we start meetings or, or people like go, I found this beautiful prayer and then they read this reflection. That's like, we are made in God's image. And I'm like, this is not a prayer. This is a lovely reflection, but this is not a prayer. A prayer is something that's addressed to God, right. Or to the saints to carry to God. So I suppose that's one thing I don't like, what about you, prayers you don't like?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. So the litany of trust was one that I just know I've prayed it a couple of times and I see everyone handing it out. I'm like, not for me. Thanks

Beth Spizarny::

Too, squishy, too, too feminine. I don't

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Know. So maybe I, it might be that. Yeah. Um, I liked the litany of humility. I like, I, I love me a good litany, but uh, the litany of trust.

Beth Spizarny::

You just don't feel like you have to trust?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

I've prayed it a few times exactly. That this is the danger of it. Right. But, uh, but yeah, cause it can be good to hear kind of this conversation just to say, like, not every prayer has to be for everyone or every devotion needs to be for everyone. It's okay to say like, okay, this is not my kind of prayer. But other people love it and it works for them. Yeah. So prayer is always awesome. It's always easy, always, you know, without problems, uh, for you, but for me, sometimes there's challenges in prayer and some of the challenges that I've experienced and, you know, most people have is a kind of dryness that when we pray, you know, it requires effort on our part. So, the first thing can be like, I don't know if I want to do this. Right. I'm kind of tired or I'm kind of have other things that, you know, I feel like I need to be doing, but, so one of the challenges can be not wanting to do it.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

And then when we pray, we can feel like the Lord isn't there. It can be hard to perceive him. Saint Ignatius of Loyola talks about this, you know, in a category of desolation where it doesn't feel like we're close to God and where it can be challenge. And even at times when we're repelled from holy things, when we're kind of turned away from it, um, so desolation and dryness can be a real challenge in prayer. And you know, the way I think about it is like, God attracts us to himself with,with the sweetness. And you know, a lot of things talk about this with the sweetness and the consolation and the perceptive closeness, but he wants more than it to be a transactional relationship Yeah. So the maturity comes when we say I'm going to pray, not because of the sweetness and the consolation I feel, but because it's right and I need it and God deserves it. And whether I feel dry or desolate, or whether I feel consolation and sweetness, I'm going to be a man or a woman who's consistently praying. And that can be a real challenge because when we don't feel like anything is happening, the easiest thing to do is just to turn away and say, well, I'm going to do something.

Beth Spizarny::

Yeah. And for people in ministry, it's not hard to busy themselves with something else. It's very easy. Yeah. I think I was on a retreat, last year and I was just, it was one of those times where I was sitting in the chapel and I hadn't brought a plan or a book, which is, I should have, um, I think it was Saint Teresa of Avila who said she never would enter prayer. She would not dare to enter prayer without a book. Anyway, I was sitting there and all of a sudden I'd start remembering all these sad, horrible things that have happened, you know, just in my life, just old wounds. And, you know, I started writing down like, man, this is like a lot of hard mess. Like Lord, are you going to heal something here? What's happening? And I was like, what are you going to say into this Lord?

Beth Spizarny::

And there was, there was just silence. And finally, the one thing I thought I almost heard was why do I need to say more? And at the time I was so crushed and like, Lord, why wouldn't you speak into these wounds and like bring healing and give some of that consolation, you know? But I really see now, and I'm continuing see that like the Lord was inviting. He's inviting me to remember to remember what he's already said, what he's already done, you know? Um, and not to always be looking for one more thing, Lord, what will you tell me today? Right. The Lord has given me so much already and I need to go back and remember it, remember who he is and there shouldn't be anything that comes to mind or that happens in the world that I would allow to let me forget all that he said and all that he's done.

Beth Spizarny::

Um, but I think caught on the other, on the other hand of that, right. Where I don't want to expect every time, some new consolation, I think there is a challenge to come to prayer with an expectancy. I mean, I started my daily morning prayer habit in high school. And, um, it's been a lot of years since then. And some mornings I get up and I journal and I read the scriptures and I pray and I don't sense anything. I don't hear anything, you know, but then I was watching The Chosen over the summer. And there's one episode where, I think it's Philip or something though. Everybody's gone to sleep. All the disciples have gone to sleep and Jesus is there at the camp. He just gets back and there's a fire and Phillip is there and you think, oh, they're just going to go to bed.

Beth Spizarny::

And Jesus invites, Phillip he's like, do you want to talk? And they go and they sit down at the fire and just the intimacy of sitting at the fire with Christ himself alone together. It just like, it flooded over me and I was thinking Lord, like what I would give to just sit down with you at a fire, you know, what questions I would bring, what hopes and dreams and you know, and then I just felt the Lord say like, we have that every day we have that every morning you can come to prayer with the expectancy that I'm here, that I listened that I love, you know? Um, but I think it can be challenging to have that same expectancy, even though there are seasons of dryness, right. We don't always get the consolation and, and I want to grow up where I don't always need, something big.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

No, it's the expectancy I think of when after Lazarus dies and I forget, I think it's, is it Martha and Mary who

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Says to him, um, you know, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. Yeah. So it's so beautiful. I think about that in prayer. Like she's expecting things from the Lord. She's disappointed when he doesn't do what he wants her to do, but that is all part of God's plan of her maturity. It, her understanding more deeply who he is. And I think about that. So you're, so right to Beth to say, we go to prayer with expectation and we need to, even when it's not like, you know, Jesus doesn't come running through the doors, like the Kool-Aid man, right. Kind of like this dramatic entrance. Um, the part of the expectation is to say like, God, I want to experience you in all the fullness that you're going to reveal yourself today and I'm ready for all of that. Um, and I'm ready for whatever you're going to do here.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Um, even if it's to disappoint me some way, because I know you never truly disappoint. So to be disappointed by the Lord is for us to kind of like recalibrate who God is. And it fixes the false idol of God that we craft for ourselves. So kind of going with that expectation is, Hey God, like I'm ready for whatever you want me to do. Um, that can be so purifying for who we are. And especially those of us in ministry, like God wants an intimate, deep, personal relationship with. Right. Um, but he also like demands that we be mature disciples. And so part of what we're doing is assuming the mantle of responsibility for the church and to do that, we have to be men and women who pray in season and out of season.

Beth Spizarny::

We can't just try to do these things on our own strength, right?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Or it can't be like when I have time I pray or when things are going well, or when I'm in a pinch, that's when I go pray, right. When I don't know what to do,

Beth Spizarny::

Let's be honest. The biggest challenge we have in prayer is not praying. That's the biggest job. The worst prayer times we have are the ones we skip.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. And it tells us the most important thing. The, I might be getting a little too loud here, but I'm going to get loud the most important fundamental thing here in prayer is showing up, showing up, right? That's like number one is to show up and pray and to show up to prayer. And number two in my, estimation. So your thoughts is doing our past to put away distractions so that we can give ourselves to the Lord. I heard, this wonderful priest kind of give a talk about distractions and his prayer. And sometimes distractions are what God is inviting us to pray about. And he was on a retreat and, had been really, really busy and was so glad to kind of be in retreat. And he was at a place where these cows were mooing outside the retreat center.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

It was in the middle of nowhere in South Dakota. Um, and he was getting frustrated like he was trying to pray and like could hear these cows Moo. And it was distracting him. And so like after a few times he was telling me this story, he goes, you know, it's just like, God, like, I'm so annoyed by these cows. What's up with these cows. I can hear mooing whatever they were a quarter mile away or whatever. And he said, it just like was revealed to him in prayer. You know, kind of like his eyes were open to this. Like you were so busy and I brought you to a place where you're hearing cows moo as the noise you're hearing. Like, this is my gift to you, that you are in a place where this is like, you can't be more away. The only noise are these cows. Um, and he said, it just kind of flipped him to say, okay, well, what I thought was a distraction, maybe God was inviting me to consider, to pray. So putting away distractions, when I think about that is saying like, I'm not going to focus on what I want to focus on, or just have this conversation with myself, but I'm going to relate everything in my life to the Lord.

Beth Spizarny::

I think, there's even an expectancy in that. Right. Expecting and knowing that everything that comes in prayer is a gift. Um, and so even that the cows were, there was a gift there, you know, before I went to India, my favorite place to pray was in the church. And there was a brick road outside the church, my parish. And you would hear just the cars driving up the brick road. And it was just very like just peaceful, very like quiet noises, very quiet. And I went to India and the best church I could find had, I mean, cars honking people, yelling kids from the school screaming. And I just remember sitting there and being like, Lord, I can't hear you. It's too loud. Which is true. India is too loud. It's great. It's great. But it's too loud. But, um, but I think now the Lord was inviting me.

Beth Spizarny::

He was giving me the gift of learning to hear him in the noise. And that's an amazing gift. That's an incredible gift, right. To learn how to hear him in the noise. But I think when I was early in my ministry life, um, I started out working for the church part-time so I, know there's a lot of part-timers in the church. I started as part-time and I had another full-time job and I was just exhausted. I was always working. I was always going and I was just exhausted. And then when I did come to work for the church full-time I still was doing the same thing. I was just exhausted. It's easy. It's hard. Like the job never finishes. You know, it just never finishes. So I kept going and going and going and, and my prayer life suffered, or I think, I thought it was like indulgent to sit and pray when there's so many people that need to hear there's so much to do.

Beth Spizarny::

There's like, and I, a friend told me, you need to read the soul of the apostolate. And I did. I brought it with me and most of it is underlined, but the amount of people who told me to read this book, it got to be so many that I was like, fine. I will get the book. And I did. And essentially I would say the main takeaway of it, um, it's written for priests. Um, but the main point of it is that for those of us who are working in ministry, there's an incredible temptation and danger, from the enemy that would get us to be working so hard and so much that we greatly neglect prayer and the interior life, which is the soul of the apostolate, which is the fuel that, drives everything. And not only, so not only do our ministries suffer when we neglect prayer, um, but we're risking our own salvation by doing it.

Beth Spizarny::

And so essentially he's basically saying like, it's, incredibly dangerous for you. It's incredibly spiritually dangerous for you, for us in ministry, in particular, to follow that temptation, to be Martha all day long, because actually there are much easier ways to go to hell, much easier ways to go to hell. Uh, and so I started going, I was at a diocesan thing, not too much longer after I read it and I was just going on about it, like, oh my gosh, we have got to be praying. We have got to be, I was like, is anyone else neglecting that? And everyone's like, oh yeah, well there's just not time. And I thought, again, there are. And when I said, I said, that exact thing. I said, there are a lot of easier ways to go to hell than to do this. And you could hear people at the table gasp. And I was probably a little too intense, you know, it was fair.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

That's good,

Beth Spizarny::

It was a little John the Baptist happening that day. But I think it's really dangerous. And the longer I'm in ministry, the more convinced I am of this fact, I've heard maintenance workers say that, you know, they're so busy repairing the kneelers and doing this and doing that, that like they can't sit down and pray. Like there wouldn't be time or it would be neglectful of them to do, but how will we do God's work if, we're not sitting with him. We don't look like him or sound like him if we're not spending time with him.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. Amen. I mean, when I was working at the Chancery, that was one thing I asked my team. I said, we need to commit individually to praying at least an hour, a week as like part of our job, part of our work week. And, uh, in the Chancery, we had a chapel, like every church has a, uh, a church church, every parish has a church. Um, but you know, cause that is so important to say prayer has to be part of it. And I just know for me as a priest, like there's a million reasons not to pray. Um, there's a million reasons to say it's too busy. This is too important. You know? Um, my work is my prayer.

Beth Spizarny::

It's not, yeah,

Fr. Steve Pullis::

No, it's a lie, but it's a lie to say I'm too busy to pray because that's the idol that we need to smash. Is that like, I am so important.

Beth Spizarny::

It's pride wrapped up in it, right? Yeah. My work is too important for me to sit. It's too important. The Lord needs me. Does he?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

And I, you know, I think of it, like, I'm not a NASCAR fan, but I know what NASCAR is. I think that like NASCAR where, you know, they're, the cars are in this race and they're saying I'm too busy to stop and get gas. I just need to keep going. And you're like, uh, oh, like, you know, that might work. That might work once, like on a certain day where you're like, there's just there, so many things where it's like, you know, um, today it didn't work, but if that becomes our pattern that's yeah. I mean, that's a path to destruction

Beth Spizarny::

It's a path to destruction. Yeah.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

And so, you know, whoever is, um, has made it this far in the podcast, in the, uh, you know, working in ministry. Like I just, I beg you. Beth and I have talked a few times about an article I wrote a few months ago, I think at the beginning of the school year.

Beth Spizarny::

The five pitfalls of working for the church.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Or beginning of the calendar year. Yeah. Um, just how important it is. And like, if we're not praying, like we need to figure out what we need to change to pray and not like long-term strategy and a year from now, like pretty quickly today. Yeah.

Beth Spizarny::

And not only because of, I mean, we've talked about like how I think there's an interesting thing too, where like we think, oh, we need to pray so that we'll be successful in ministry. And it's true that if we don't pray, we won't be fruitful in ministry certainly. But like, we should feel the call to pray because God has more to give us, like we need to receive and we need to give him the worship that, we need to give. It's not like worship. The catechism says that the worship of the one God sets man free, I would like to be free. And if we ourselves who are in ministry, aren't taking the time to worship him to become more free, then you know, how are we going to convince others to do that?

Fr. Steve Pullis::

We probably won't be effective.

Beth Spizarny::

Yeah. It's all, it all just becomes a big mirage

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. It's the definition of building a house on sand

Beth Spizarny::

And it's very common. Like one of the, so I've I was telling you that before we started recording that I, the article you wrote I've I actually was able to lead a staff retreat for a parish over the summer. And I brought the article and I had us all read it out loud. And then we just talked about it in small groups. You know, I was hoping to send them away to pray, to reflect more, but we just did some talking about it. And one of the things that resonated was they said, huh? So he's saying these are common pitfalls. So, like not praying may not just be my personal problem. It may be collectively our problem, like, yes. Um, but these are, and then I've also done this with school teachers, our Catholic school teachers. They're not praying the people who work in our churches. They're not praying the people who are answering the phones at our churches. They're not praying the maintenance workers. They're not praying like this is, this is not good. Right. We, we look like people who are, um, who are, uh, emaciated from not eating. And we wonder why more people aren't feeling compelled to join us at the wedding banquet.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

Yeah. Yeah. And just, God wants so much more for us. And not just from us, he's not saying this. Isn't like God's, you know, saying more, uh, more bricks and no more straw or, you know, this isn't, God is Pharaoh. This is God saying he wants so much more for us. And for you, he wants a deep, intimate relationship with you. And he wants that not just as a means to an end for your ministry. He wants that as an end in itself, in a relationship with you storing up the good things he's promised for you for eternal life. So I just, I beg you if you're not a man or a woman of prayer to, to make that part of your life today, to find a way to give the Lord some time. And, and again, it's just, it's lifting your heart to the Lord.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

It's as best you can putting away distractions. So not having your phone on, you know, or buzzing with you and just taking that time to say, Jesus, I'm giving you my heart, my life, whatever is troubling me, giving me joy right now. And then listening to what you want to say back to me being open to hearing your word, um, kind of starting in that way. And as Beth talked about, you know, the way that vocal prayer or prayers that we've known as kids or, we recite in the church to kind of, to speak that with all the meaning we have in our heart. So when we say, you know, I believe in one God, the father almighty, it's not just, I'm, I'm reciting a prayer that I learned as a kid. It's I do this. And I believe like I profess this, Lord. I believe this is who you are. So whatever prayer we say that we say it with all the meaning that we are kind of uniting ourselves to this truth, that God frees us when we worship him. And he wants us to be free sons and daughters, in his love,

Beth Spizarny::

Absolutely one last thought we had a family holy hour, this week, we'll bring all the little bitty ones into the church and have the adoration. It's not really an hour. That would be insane. But we, and we invite the children to come close. And then, um, father mark carried around the monstrance and blessed each individual child, grown up whatever. And, um, there was one little girl. She had these little curls and she's sitting on the floor and she must've been. I dunno. I dunno if she could have been two. And when the Lord came over, I thought her prayer might've been the best prayer I've ever seen. So the Lord came over in the monstrance and the Eucharist and her mom whispered something and she waved. And then she sat there and she picked up her foot and then her shoe came off in her hand and she held up her shoe and then her mom whispered something else and she blew a kiss. And then the monstrance moved on. But I thought there was something very profound. And like we say, hello, we offer the Lord what we have, which in her case was her shoe. And then we say, we love you, right? This is a, this is a beautiful prayer. Very good. Very good. Two year old prayer. Very good.

Fr. Steve Pullis::

So learning from two year olds.

Beth Spizarny::

Yeah. We just give the Lord what we have and we say, we love him. Yeah,

Fr. Steve Pullis::

That's pretty good start. That's great. That's great. Amen. I know

Beth Spizarny::

This has been the encounter grow witness podcast with father Steve Polis and Beth Spizarny. This is a podcast by, and for those who work in ministry, supporting each other to grow in our relationship with Christ and the church to enable us to be better witnesses of his love in the world. Let's be better fishers of men together. Please subscribe, listen on Apple, Spotify, Google, or wherever you get your podcasts.

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