Grace to you!
I share with you one of the themes I’m most passionate about—prayer. I will highlight how it is essential for our spiritual health.
You pray, don't you? Sometimes, it's spontaneous. It could happen as you walk through your living room, as you prepare dinner for family or as you do the dishes. You feel that moment of brief and intense spiritual conversation. You know, within you, it's a profound experience. It's refreshingly different. It builds.
It could occur when something is heavy in your heart. Perhaps, you feel like the Biblical Esther, wife of King Artaxerxes of Persia, who carried the burden of her people to God in intense prayer. You may read her powerful prayer in the Book of Esther, chapter fourteen.
Other times, it could be your heart is full of joy for some good news. You burst out in prayer of praise. Or perhaps, if you are like many of us of the African race, you burst out singing unto the Lord. You notice that any time you do, you are invigorated.
It could be you create a schedule. You have what I call a covenant time with God. You long for that time. You show up. It could be a moment of silence. You are there. Though you may not always precisely know what you're saying, you feel the intense conversation in your spiritual core.
It could be in church. You're united with others in chanting your favorite hymn from the hymnal. It could be during liturgical celebrations. Yet the experience is deeply personal.
Many pray in different ways. Among them include the person who spends hours in long prayerful dialogue and the person whose prayer life is spread throughout the day in sporadic conversations. Plus, the in-betweens. We have our unique ways of praying. It is in part because, as Ann and Barry Ulanov (1983) wrote, prayer is a "primary speech" (p. 2). It is our fundamental way of expressing ourselves in the spiritual. It is our primary way of conversation with God.
During prayer, we are tapping into our spiritual core. In praying, we are embracing a crucial part of who we are as spiritual beings. By praying, we oil the various aspects of our spiritual life. In it, we get to speak in the way we don't often do while talking to others.
We know in prayer, nobody judges us. So, we pour it all out to God. We hold nothing back. We empty ourselves. Such self-emptying refreshes us through the power of the grace of the One to whom we speak. It heals.
In prayer, we also listen. We hear God communicate to us in unique ways. We hear God amidst the emptying of our hearts. All these heal. All these are refreshing. All these lead to spiritual growth.
Prayer of petition is one of the most famous prayers. The Lord Jesus speaks to us about the need to ask of God our needs. He assures us of answers to our petitions (Mt 7: 7-11).
Thank God for the gift of personal, intimate conversation with our Lord. I pray that your heart, my heart, would experience the tenderness of divine conversation with us. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Thursday Week 1 Lent: Est C: 12:14-16, 23-25; Mt 7:7-12]
Father Maurice Emelu, Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections for the season of Lent your individual spiritual edification. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations. .