My work has become so intense that I am having a difficult time enjoying the rest of my life. My family says I have become downright crabby. When I am with them, my mind wanders into work. The same thing happens when I pray, which isn’t often anyway right now. How can I manage the stress so I can be “present” when I am at home and in prayer?
I recently had a conversation with a young entrepreneur who was struggling with a similar situation. He is a man who aspires to be great. This is what I told him. “Everyone is great at being great when things are going great, but truly great people are great at being great when things are not going so great.”
The greatest people of all are saints who praise God in the midst of tremendous suffering. Anyone can be joyful when things are going their way, but to praise God during these challenging times is the making of holiness.
When people get distracted in and from prayer it is usually a sign that they are trying to do all the work themselves without asking God to help. The first thing you must do is commit yourself to prayer in the same way you commit to the responsibilities at work. I know it is counterintuitive to believe that spending less time working and more time in prayer could be good for your work but it is true.
Taking time away from work in order to pray will be good for you both practically and spiritually. Mental breaks spent in prayer are very effective for clearing your head on a natural level. Even more powerful is the grace that comes from building a relationship with God through our Blessed Mother and the sacraments.
When times are difficult you can only use your own will power, but it will only get you so far. Obviously in this case, your will power is not enough. You need to move from will power to grace power.
The young entrepreneur I mentioned above called me because he needed help with a new business he started and was failing. He had made zero sales in his first several weeks, a rare situation in the industry. I helped him with various business-related answers and then, knowing that he is Catholic, I asked him how his prayer life was. He expressed a similar situation that you described in your question. I suggested that he pray a daily Rosary and go to Mass before he went to work each morning. I did this knowing how difficult it would be for him to fit into his schedule.
He took the advice and called me back three weeks later. He told me, with enthusiasm, that he was attending daily Mass and praying the Rosary.
He went on to say that he made a sale the very same day he started his new commitments and things have progressively gotten better since. God works in mysterious ways. We can’t assume that Mass and a Rosary mean increased performance at work but, my money is on the pure-hearted in the workplace any day.
And a pure heart is a gift we receive in the Eucharist and through a devotion to our Blessed Mother.
Executive coach Dave Durand,
author of Time Management for Catholics, is online at