Grace to you!
In today’s reflection, I would love to introduce the theme on prayer, using the Lord’s instruction to his disciples in Matthew 6:7-8 as a key reference point.
Here is the text: “When you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
A boy shared how his parents took him to a fellowship so the “prayer warriors” could pray him out of his delinquent behavior. For two hours, the boy claimed, the minister and his prayer warriors were shouting at the top of their voices. In the end, they expended their energy, breathing like people who have run a marathon, not to mention the profuse sweat.
“Imagine, they were praying for me,” the boy quipped with a tone of disdain, “but I got scared and thought they were losing their minds. Loud. Disoriented.”
Did the so-called prayer warriors ever stir the boy’s heart with the power of divine communication? At least, for the boy, they didn’t. If prayer is only about shouting on top of one’s voice, plus the clashing crescendo of loud cacophonies, he wasn’t going to be part of it.
Stepping in a chapel, where a priest was waiting for him at the request of his parents, the boy felt something different. He felt peace. Like Elijah in the biblical account of I King 19:11-13, the boy felt God in the quiet.
The priest led the young man into a dialogue with God in relation to his behavioral challenges. The young man testified he was convinced God was stirring his heart.
Prayer—whether vocal, mental, meditative or contemplative—isn’t an invocation of a force; or like, you know, the 2016 Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens. Christian prayer isn’t incantation as done in pagan cults. Our prayer is an intimate dialogue with God who loves us and is ever at home with us. It’s a communication, or preferably, a conversation, a soul-to-soul relationship with God.
In this relationship, verbosity isn’t as important as being present in the palms of God, just as verbosity isn’t as important as being with your love. Prayer is being in the zone of divine conversation, contemplating the face of God who loves us first and has invited us, in Christ, to this love.
God knows our heart. He sees everything through and through. Just being present, and allowing the thoughts of our hearts, the meditations of our mind and the words of our mouths, no matter how sparse, to enter into this loving dialogue, is sufficient.
It wouldn’t be a bad idea to ask for the grace of this dialogue of prayer during this Lent for a joyful prayer-life.
Would you please pray with me: Lord, teach us to pray. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Tuesday, Lenten Weekday, Week 2: Is. 55:10-11; Mt 6:7-15]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible 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.