James 5:16 NRSV

Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NRSV)

In Colorado there is a Benedictine abbey which is home to forty-five monks. One day a reporter stopped to have lunch with the monks and to ask them some questions. He asked them why they lived as they did. Brother William, seventy-years-old explained, "You have to understand, everything we do is a form of prayer." Noticing the puzzled expression on the reporter's face he added, "It's hard for some people to comprehend that. Prayer is not just reciting prayers, it is always talking with God whenever you are alone."

"Then why confine your life to the abbey?" the reporter asked. "Wouldn't you accomplish more by reaching out to people?"

Several of the monks cleared their throats when they heard that question, "Accomplish more? No," Brother William responded. "We do reach out. You can't love God unless you reach out. If I existed the way I should exist--don't get me wrong, I don't--but if I existed the way I should, then people would be moved to ask more, to see my life as an example." And Brother William added, "In that sense, I am reaching out."

With a genuine sadness Brother William informed the reporter that the beautiful abbey is experiencing financial difficulties. They have had to rent out some of their buildings, and put the rest up for sale. "That is sad," the old monk said, "the intense interest in learning to be a monk isn't there anymore." Many people, he explained were taking shortcuts in their lives. "We are here as examples," he said, "to show that there aren't any shortcuts. There are only the long paths, the commitments. That's what we do here," he added. "We are an example for people like you."

What shortcuts do you need to get rid of?

God of all, forgive me for trying to take the easy way. I will do my best to live my life as a prayer. In Jesus' name, Amen.
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