Spiritual Reflection – Prayer
Most of us, when we consider working on a deeper religious dimension to our lives, think in terms of improving our knowledge or upgrading our behaviour. This will not happen unless first we lay down an experiential foundation. Without personal contact with the spiritual world, our religious efforts will soon falter. We may well believe that faith without works is dead, but we need to recognise that faith without prayer is dying.
The gospels offer us a coherent picture of the qualities of prayer, based on the example and teaching of Jesus. Among other qualities, four stand out. Prayer is to be intimate, honest, confident, and persevering.
Jesus’ own prayer to the Father was intimate, and he invites us to follow his example and share his family access. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, we can call God Abba, addressing One whom we recognise not only as the source of our very being, but also as One who loves us dearly.
Because God is our Father, we can be perfectly upfront with him about all that concerns us. There is to be no holding back in order to present ourselves as better than we are. The great mystery inherent in God’s love is that it stems from what God is and not from what we are. No matter what sort of mess we have made of our lives, God’s love for us does not flicker.
This undeviating acceptance is the basis for our confidence that our prayers will be heard. Prayer never has a negative result. If we ask for a stone, God will give us bread. If our petition is for snakes and scorpions, we will receive fish and eggs. An answer will come, though maybe not in the form we expected.
God is outside time. Our prayer will be heard at a time of God’s choosing. This means that we have to keep on praying, knocking, and seeking until the season arrives when God will act. Think of the example of Saint Monica who prayed for her son (Augustine of Hippo) to be converted to Christianity. Her prayer was answered. After seventeen years.
Michael Casey. Balaam’s Donkey: Random Ruminations for Every Day of the Year (Collegeville, Minnesota: Liturgical Press, 2019), eBook Location 5590