Making an Option for God


12 Jan 2016
The beginning of the year brings all kinds of resolutions and promises. Fresh starts, new commitments, a different outlook. It’s a bit like Lent for Catholics. We might give something up, or take up something.
‘I will keep a diary or a journal.’
‘I’ll pray every morning.’
‘I will exercise more.’
‘I’ll spend less time on social media.’
‘I will only watch half an hour of reality TV a day.’
‘I’ll eat better and lose a few kilos.’
‘I’ll be more generous to those less fortunate.’
‘I’ll be more present to family and friends.’
Perhaps some of these resonate with you?
They certainly do with me.
One of my promises this year is to read more. Over the summer I have relished the extra time I have spent with my nose stuck in a book, sometimes stopping mid-page to take in whatever lesson the page has for me.
Social innovator Claire Diaz-Ortiz, credited as the ‘woman who got the pope on twitter’ reads 200 books a year. She is very intentional about it. So that’s one of my commitments. I’m doing pretty well so far. I’ve read 10 since Christmas.
Among the titles that have been on my bookshelf and iPad include Design Your Day by the aforementioned Diaz-Ortiz; Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert (of Eat, Pray, Love fame), and then a few titles, including biographies of Australian women in journalism. (Do you sense a theme emerging?)
The two ‘self-help’ books have helped me enormously with the reordering of priorities.
Don’t tell my boss, but Diaz-Ortiz in Design Your Day says we should work smarter, and recognise that we aren’t always productive. She (and others) argue that if we work in front of a computer screen, we are likely to spend the majority of the time wasting away perfectly good time on YouTube or such. I had thought I was just being lazy in the afternoons. It turns out the afternoon slump is a actual thing. So, what Diaz-Ortiz recommends is to harness our energy and ‘work smart’ during the 20 per cent of the time where we actually have our batteries fully charged.
Research in fact shows that while we might be employed inside traditional work hours, most only do real work for about 20 per cent of that time. Another example to support this sees some employers claiming that women who work part-time after having a child are far more productive and focussed in their reduced hours that they were before. They still often have the same amount of work to do, but have become adept at multitasking.
So. This year the guilt is being put on the back burner, and I’m going to start working and living smarter. I will take advantage of those energy bursts when they come, and accept that sometimes, I need to rest.
But I digress. This is a PrayerBlog, and I do have a point to make about spirituality. Another thing that Diaz-Ortiz talks about is an idea she has called the PRESENT principle. (You can read about it in her book The Better Life.)
This is a short blog, and so, I won’t go into detail about each of the steps, suffice it to say, they are #solidgold. Most of the information is on her blog too (
But notice, she starts with prayer.
For a long time now, despite a commitment to my faith, and practicing the various aspects of it, my prayer life is often relegated to a quick skim of a reflection at the end of the day. (The ones I use are and Pray-As-You-Go).
My putting together of the daily prayer emails and scheduling our social media here at are often all I get to, a quick read of a key phrase from the Gospel or the Psalm.
So, even though I work in a religious context, indeed as a prayer and spirituality editor, I notice that one of the first things I edit out of my life with my piranha-like editor’s pen is my prayer. So I guess that makes my title apt? Busy-ness has led me to virtually eliminate the most important part of my day.
Anyway, I’m writing this down so you can hold me to this, folks. Full disclosure here:
This year, I commit to making an option for God, in some form, each day. This will necessarily include the Examen. (Stay tuned for more resources from us on the Examen). I will make my option for God through intentional daily prayer, by seeking God first. And, as Matthew 6:33 promises, I hope that things will flow from that.
Feel free to check in with me and see how I’m doing ☺
Beth Doherty is the editor of PrayOnline and the author of the new book Tweet others as you would wish to be tweeted. The book can be ordered from or on
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