NOTE: An excerpt from our second reading during Vigils this morning that I thought was worth sharing:
It seems difficult to convince good Christians--even monks, nuns, and priests--that a time should be set aside for prayer. Even the expression to "set aside a time for prayer" causes a violent reaction in those who think there is no longer any need for prayer.
If the important thing is to give our time to the service of others and consecrate it to human relationships, it no longer seems very clear why a time must be reserved for converse with God. The idea of a direct relationship with God has lost meaning for many people. Relationship with God is now achieved through a relationship with our fellow humans.
But if we wish our prayer to blossom into a constant alertness to the mysteries of God, it is difficult to imagine how this can happen if we do not wish to consecrate a little time to it. Some people will be able to give each day some time--short or long--to prayer. What is important is that God's love should become the object of our total attention if only for a few minutes each day.
The fixing of our attention on the invisible is a burden which can be borne only by faith. The Church knows this very well. That is why she has instituted times of prayer, special periods in which we direct our attention to the divine mysteries. It is for this reason, for example, that she has set apart the Lord's Day with its ritual and its prayers. In Christ and through his eyes, the Church contemplates the divine mysteries, and she invites the faithful to do the same. She tries to make them recognize in this dedicated time, somewhere outside time, where God is. The seeing Church invites us to become attentive at a time and a place which become the basis from which to contemplate the invisible and the eternal. This time, cut out of our ordinary time, gives notice of that which lies beyond time and space.
Christ himself, Son of God though he was, gave time to personal prayer as the gospels mention several times. We know he spent many hours and sometimes whole nights in prayer. It has been suggested that he prayed only to give us an example. But I think that, as a man, he had to spend time in prayer. This time was essential for the awareness of his relationship to God to come to fruition within him as a man. The relationship with God he enjoys throughout eternity had also to be realized during the years he was a man.
Yves Raguin, S.J., How to Pray Today, 1974