Everyone wants to be a person of prayer. The question is one posed by the disciples of Jesus, and continued to be asked today: how do I pray? Prayer is at the heart of our relationship with God, creating an encounter that is deeply personal. God is calling you specifically, now, by your name. Our God is not some distant Supreme Being who is unapproachable, but a personal God who entered our history concretely through Jesus, the Christ. And He continued to enter YOUR history.
Jesus teachers us how to pray by calling God “Father,” a shocking metaphor for those who are more comfortable keeping God at a distant. In teaching the “Our Father,” jesus made prayer a deeply personal encounter with the Living God.
Prayer us simplyvbeing in the presence of this Living God: praising, thanking, listening, loving. When we expect some feeling or concrete message in prayer we become disappointed and frustrated. Prayer is simply showing up everyday without fail and trusting when God seems so distant and even absent. This spiritual desert is the very beginning of prayer. When God “seems” absent, He is more present than we can realize at the time. It takes time and a complete reorientation of our awareness as prayer deepens.
Trust that God is present, for God is luring you into the desert to speak to your heart, as the prophet Hosea beautifully teaches. In the desert we are stripped of consolations and emotions, so that we don’t rely on them or identify them with God.
Just keep showing up and don’t worry about the words you use or the length of time. Prayer does need time and consistently if it is going to deepen. But we must be flexible and persistent. Spend one minute being aware of your breathing as you let go of thoughts; ask the Spirit to fill you; be silent for
two or three minutes, letting go of thoughts; thank God for these few minutes; offer a prayer for a particular person or intention; pray the Our Father. Ten or fifteen minutes everyday is all God needs. Is it worth the effort?
Peace. Fr. Frank