Grace to you!
For today’s reflection, I will share an excerpt from my book Our Journey to God. It relates how prayer is our participation in Divine Providence. I hope you would find it edifying.
How do we cooperate in Divine Providence through prayer? The Lord himself told us: "Ask, and it will be given you" (Matt. 7: 7). In the temporal order, there is an intimate connection between providence and prayer. Let us first understand how prayer is related to providence.
Prayer is not a force emanating from us, as sometimes we tend to think; neither is it our effort to persuade God through our words, ascetic practices and worship. The Gospel of Luke 11:1-13 shows Jesus teaching his apostles how to pray (verses 1-4); and he added another element, a parable, which is not in the other three Gospels (verses 5-13). The parable is on the necessity and efficacy of prayer, driving home the point that perseverance is important in the prayer of petition. We need to persevere in placing our intentions and will within the Eternal Will of God.
True prayer is prompted by the spirit of God who intercedes for us with “words too deep for thought” (Romans 8: 18). If it is the Spirit that directs true prayer, then the Spirit is connected to its source, to whom the Spirit prays.
Therefore, when we pray, we are placing ourselves in the Eternal Will of God. Consequently, our prayer can transform the world because, just as it is the Eternal Will of the Father by His providence to use us to transform the world through our works, so is prayer. As there will be no harvest without the sowing of seed, no knowledge without mental effort, so is prayer. Prayer is a “cause” designed from all eternity by providence to produce a certain effect, the attainment of the gifts of God necessary for our wellbeing and for the wellbeing of others.
Similarly, prayer is a clear recognition of providence, because the person who prays is making a bold statement of acknowledgement of his or her reverence for Divine Providence. “What have you that you did not receive? ” (I Cor. 4:7.) When we pray, it is an admission that we are under divine governance and our hope is not essentially in human beings but in “heaven,” from where our salvation comes (Psalm 121:1). Whether our prayer takes the form of adoration or supplication or thanksgiving or reparation, it should thus unceasingly render to Providence the homage, which is God’s due. …
Finally, prayer in essence, is cooperation in Divine plan and not in opposition to it. What happens when we are on our knees is that we identify with God’s Will and wish in time (consciously or unconsciously) what God wills for us from all eternity. At prayer, our will is lifted up from the limitations of the flesh and the world to the domain of Divine Will. There, all selfishness is melted away, the walls of division are broken and our soul is completely absolved into the Eternal Love and governance of God.
Thus, at prayer, we are able to become God’s channels of grace to those we love and those who are different from the way we are. At prayer, we cease to be the egoistic ‘I’, and become ‘we’. During prayer, the ‘I’ and the ‘Thou’ (God) meet for an encounter that transforms the ‘us’ – ‘others’ and ‘I’ – plus the world. It is in this process that we discover the incalculable potency of prayer over many other ways of cooperating with divine providence.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
Fr. Maurice Emelu, Ph.D.
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.