by Ellie Melero
Few people might recognize the name “Greg Kandra.” But if you’ve seen shows like “Survivor” or the CBS documentary “9/11” or even the “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,” then you are familiar with his work.
Kandra is an Emmy- and Peabody award-winner twice over and has won four awards from the Writers Guild of America.
But he is also a deacon at Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Parish in Forest Hills, New York, and the multimedia editor for the Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
Despite his 26 years at CBS News, today he is better known for his blog: The Deacon’s Bench.
After being ordained to the diaconate in 2007, he started his blog because he saw a lack of publications and resources geared specifically toward deacons. The blog has since earned him more than 20 million readers around the world, mostly Catholic, and it receives about 200,000 page views a month.
Deacon Kandra lends a Catholic perspective to just about everything: While one post considers how deacons can help address the clerical sexual abuse crisis in the church, another discusses Andrew Luck’s retirement from football.
And the blog is not all he’s writing these days. He is the author of two books, the most recent of which is called “The Busy Person’s Guide to Prayer,” which was published in March.
In a short, easy-to-read book, Deacon Kandra gives tips for how to incorporate meaningful prayer into a person’s everyday life. It also offers short prayers and reflections to help get folks started.
The Leaven had an opportunity to talk recently with Deacon Kandra about his new book and the importance of prayer in one’s life.
Q. What is the importance of prayer in an everyday Christian’s life?
A. It defines who we are and our relationship with God. Serious, thoughtful, heartfelt prayer is so important in strengthening our relationship with God and in making us connected with him — which is a big part of what prayer is all about.
[Then], it’s maintaining that relationship and strengthening it and, through all that, discerning God’s will in our lives and trying to live the life that he wants for us.
Q. What do you think are the top three tips you have about praying?
A. 1) Start slow.
The first thing, really, is having the desire to do it, and it’s finding 30 seconds out of your day that you can find someplace quiet to give yourself over to God. Do that, and begin with that, and eventually your prayer life can grow from that. Don’t overwhelm yourself with it. Start small and modest and humble and trust that God will accept anything that you offer with love.
2) Try to make everything an offering to God.
Look at your life and try to make everything you do in your life a kind of prayer, an offering to God. Any conversation that you have, any work that you do. Eventually, if we do it enough — and we do it with the right attitude and the will and the love that we should — our whole lives can become a prayer.
3) Find a phrase or prayer you can say all the time.
Find a phrase or a prayer, something short and simple, that you can say often. Keep that in the back of your mind and in your heart. Say that in times of stress or trouble or whenever you want to pray and you don’t know what to say. I encourage people to find that phrase or prayer that they can turn to whenever they need it.
Q: What do you hope people take away from reading the book?
A. I hope they realize that prayer shouldn’t be intimidating. It is accessible. It is something tangible and real and immediate and it can be a part of your life. It doesn’t have to be big and overwhelming and with a lot of difficult prayers. You can make prayer a part of your life if you simply have the desire to do it and the will.