A cry of recognition and of love

What is prayer and how should we pray? These are questions that have been voiced many times, even by the apostles. Jesus gave us the Lord ’s Prayer, that perfect plea which contains that which we rightly desire before God. St. John Damascene wrote that “Prayer is the raising of one’s mind and heart to God or the requesting of good things from God.” St. Therese of Lisieux wrote that “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

When we pray we must do so with great humility and contrition. Jesus illustrated this through the parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. He tells us that “… for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted” [Lk 18:9-14]. Humility is the foundation of prayer.

Within each of us there is a singular and solitary place for God. It is the soul, a sanctuary where a covenant relationship exists between one’s self and God. It is a place for reflection and conversation, joy and sorrow, honesty and trust. It is where prayer is made and prayer is answered.

In teaching us how to pray, Jesus tells us that “Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” God knows what you truly need rather than what you think you need. And that is why we often believe that our prayers go unanswered. We pray and pray, fervently asking God to help us, give us, cure us, free us, save us. When our pleas go unanswered we shake our heads in frustration and blame Him for our misery, for our failures.

But, did God ignore our prayer or did we ignore his response? God knows what you need, even when you don’t. It is our failure to understand the purpose and power of prayer that gets in the way. It is our misconception of our relationship with God that turns our prayer inside out. God is our creator and it is He who is in control. We owe our existence to the One who made us; He owes us nothing, we owe Him everything. Our prayers to God should not be pleas of supplication but rather “a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”

God always responds but He responds to us in His own time and His own way. As long as we look toward Him for the answers that we expect when we expect them, we will miss the response that He will provide. Praise God and He will reward you with the gifts of His grace and love.

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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