Sunday, 25 August 2019
Prayer ... what prayer does God want?
We all know how Jesus taught us to pray. But even that prayer has over the years been superseded and supplemented by a lot of other prayers, pleadings and hymns to give God and all His Saints an almighty headache. Different people prefer different ways to pray. Some say the Lord's Prayer and believe that it is enough. Others add other prayers they have learnt when young or in church. Others prefer to just talk to God, and maybe give Him advice on what He should do, rather than spend some quiet time listening to His voice.
Prayer seems to have become like a product we choose from the supermarket with each person having their favourite style or brand.
As a Catholic I am not a stranger to the many people who repeat the Rosary over and over again, or recite many litanies and novenas to the Saints, or have many prayers addressed to favourite Saints for special favours and/or miracles.
I can't help wondering. Is that what God really wants?
Does He really want us to repeat prayers that we have learn by heart over and again?
Does He want us to plead over and over again please ... please ... pretty please ... with sugar on top.
Does He want us to promise that if He does what we ask we will light a candle in church?
Does God really want or care for our candles? Or our offerings of more prayers or donations to this or that charity if only He does as we ask?
God cannot be bought.
He does not need our bribes in order to respond to our prayers. Neither does He want us to beg like dogs for His favours.
We are told, and I believe, that He is a loving God. A Creator and a Father, as Jesus describes Him often.
Jesus spoke about the love of a father towards His children when He said, "What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Luke 11:11-13)
What Christ is teaching here is that God, our loving Father, knows what we need and will supply our needs in good time. Including His Holy Spirit - if we ask.
How we pray is important. I personally don't believe in repetitious prayers like the Rosary but accept and respect that some people find comfort in such prayers. Indeed, I have recited the Rosary a few times in the past.
But having said that, I believe the most effective prayer is that of silence. Just sitting there in silence is a prayer in itself. And I don't mean sitting there in front of the TV watching Dowton Abbey or the football! That's not a prayer; it is just watching TV.
Sitting in silence, perhaps thanking God for our lives as it is, however difficult it might be at the moment, is a prayer in itself.
As long as we are honest and express our true feelings, even feelings of apprehension, fear or despair, we should believe that God who knows everything will know what is on our mind without us uttering a word.
A silent prayer of trust is all He asks from us.