TO PRAY IS…

Thursday, 1st Week of Lent              

            “Ask and it will be given to you…”

            The words of our Lord in today’s gospel reading indicate that God does answer our prayers. Our Lord’s insistence on this fact puts one in mind of the well-known story of that little girl who was taunted by her friends that God had not answered her prayer because she did not receive something she had prayed for. The little girl responded, “God answered my prayer; it is just that his answer was ‘No.’”

            The truth of the matter is that God does not have to be informed as to what our needs are. He knows them better than we, and actually grants what we really need – though not always what we think we need. St. Augustine puts it succinctly by saying, “If our prayers seem not answered, it is because either we do not ask rightly or we do not ask for the right thing.”

            God, more than the best parents, is concerned with giving us the right thing, but he does will that his gifts come to us in answer to our prayers. According to Charles Miller, every parent should be able to understand why God wants us to ask for things. “Good parents will take care of their children, but they are pleased when their children turn to them with confidence, as well as politeness, for they thereby show that they recognize both the ability of their parents to help as well as their love which will move them to help.”

            All prayers should be worship of God, that is, recognition of God’s power and love – even the prayer of petition. When we pray to God with humility, realizing his almighty power, and with confidence, recognizing his love, he will give us the good things we need.         

            So, what is the true meaning and spirit of prayer? To pray is to ask the Father to help us be like Jesus… it is to ask the Father to make our hearts like that of Jesus… it is to ask the Father to give us the attitude and mind of Jesus… it is to ask the Father to grant us the kindness of Jesus… it is to ask the Father to help us follow Jesus faithfully. To pray is ask the Father to open our hearts to his will, like Jesus at Gethsemane, like Jesus on the cross. May we spend this Lenten season praying like this.

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