Who doesn’t want to go to heaven? Really. I know that I definitely do considering the alternative is pretty scary; but more importantly, what could be better than spending all of eternity with the God, our all powerful and all loving Creator. Unfortunately, people don’t just die, wake up, and find themselves in heaven. In other words, many people don’t make it. It’s not something that will happen by accident.
Recently a priest gave a homily and mentioned that according to a poll 78% of people believe they’re going to heaven. Ok, so far so good… But, the majority of those people said they don’t pray. Hmmm… that doesn’t seem to make sense. The same priest went on to say that “heaven is a prepared place for prepared people.” Part of the definition of prayer given in the Catechism of the Catholic Church says that praying “is a simple look turned toward heaven” (CCC 2558). That makes sense. If I want to prepare to go to heaven, it might be a good idea to start looking in that direction. Thus, it also stands to reason that a good start to preparing for heaven is praying here on earth.
Think of it this way… If I want to run a marathon, I need to start to train and to get my body into the shape and condition required to sustain me for a long distance run. I need to put down the potato chips and start feeding my body the nutrition it craves, and I need to get off the couch and start training physically to build the stamina to accomplish my goal. Now, I might have a brother who goes to the gym every day or friends who run regularly, but when the gun signals the start of the marathon, my brother’s hours of working out and my friend’s hours of running are not going to help me in the least. The only thing that will help me achieve my goal will be the time Ihave spent preparing for the race.
So it is with prayer. If I want to spend forever in the presence of God, I need to spend time training hard here on earth. The fact that my mother or grandmother are spiritual warriors and pray all the time will do little to help me on the road to heaven. I alone have to put the effort, and we cannot use the accomplishments of others. Therefore, now is the best time to start.
Really there is never a bad time to get the ball rolling. But, the Church in her wisdom gives us two seasons that are particularly suited to get us prepared to move toward heaven. Advent, is the anticipatory season just before Christmas, while Lent is the penitential season leading up to the crucifixion death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only do these seasons give us the opportunity to await two awesome events, Christmas and Easter, they also provide extra motivation to make time for prayer so Jesus can be born in our hearts and we can ultimately share in His resurrection.
Everyone can find 10 or 15 minutes a day to pray, at least. It might mean turning the TV off a little earlier or setting the alarm to wake up sooner than usual. It might mean scrolling social media for 1 hour instead of three, or 1 show of Netflix instead of two. We have time, but do we make time for God? I recommend starting to pray 10-15 minutes a day if you do not pray at all. If you were married rarely spoke with your spouse, what kind of a relationship would you have… if any? If you didn’t go to school, you would flunk out. If you only show up at work once a week, you would get fired. If you were on a sports team and only showed up once a week or didn’t show up at all, you would be cut
It’s the same with heaven! Nobody will not get there by accident or by doing nothing. Going to church once a week out of obligation won’t help much either. Catholicism isn’t something we do, it’s something we are. We don’t have a prayer to get to heaven if we don’t pray!
In closing, make a promise to take 10-15 minutes to sit in silence and reflect on your life. Why don’t you pray? What keeps you from God? What needs to change? Why is God not a priority? What are you making more important? And so on. So if you don’t pray every day, begin today and continue tomorrow. The best part is that no matter how awesome the daily rewards are for praying, they will be nothing compared to the treasures God has prepared for those who give their hearts to Him.
So, who goes to heaven? People who are prepared. Heaven is a prepared place for prepared people. Make it your highest priority and goal! There is nothing God desires more than your heart and your love. How much do you desire to be close to Him?