What would you say if an accountant did no work with money or numbers? What would you say if a train driver didn't go near a train? What would you say if WATCH didn't produce petitions?
You would know that all was not right with the world. That's what.
The rest of this post can be regarded as something of a personal confession - but I feel inclined to write about something that could be construed as such a problem as I allude to above.
As a church-going boy and then a church-going man I spent an appreciable time with God in the liturgical times and in other times set aside for private prayer. Then I was ordained and that was that for prayer - or so it feels at times.
Priestly ministry is the very best work a human can do. I wouldn't do anything else and without it, I am not fulfilling the purpose of my birth. That I can share it with a wonderful wife and best-friend, with two gifted and beautiful daughters, and in a place where we feel rooted and settled is perfect. But all this comes at a price. Parish ministry, by very definition, has taken us away from the place from where we were sent - often the places where our families and friends were, and often the places where we once found God. Priests are nomadic people and we rarely stay anywhere for longer than a decade (which may seem like a long time but really isn't).
Priests who are vicars (as well as those in other roles) are priests who have much work to cram into a week. Someone once said that priests are incomprehensible on one day of the week and un-contactable on the other six. We don't hide away doing nothing - we are grafting away somewhere.
The bottom line is that I hardly find a moment to pray - unless I count the liturgical and public events. As a disciple of God, I no more touch base with Him as I do with my dear old mum, by brother and sister or my dearest friends. If you have a priest in the family, you will know what I mean. I console myself that blogging is prayer, that gym time is prayer time, that a few minutes running around like a dementer in the shower is prayer time, or else cooking or gardening. I console myself but never fully convince myself. And I am not alone. In her book 'The Cracked Pot', Yvonne Warren states this situation clearly based on a national study of clergy.
Something has got to give. While most of me thinks that life is booming (and it is, Deo Gratias), there is a part of me that had withered and lies like an un-watered seedling. The thing is, I can't tell people that the Vicar doesn't pray enough - it is not what they want to hear. Am I not meant to exemplify prayer, to be before God with the people on my heart? I am not alone, as I say, and it is a perennial problem for priests - which is odd when you think about it. Perhaps the world only regards a day as 'done' when it is filled with tasks completed not time taken for space (read 'prayer').