We try to pray and sometimes we lag behind this very important activity. There are basically two reasons why: there is no time, and we are discouraged because God does not give us what we want. Let’s try to address these.
We have to make time! Our schedule is not magically going to open up so we can have time to pray; it has to be penciled in our daily program. In a generation where social media beckons us every moment, where streaming services offer something to watch any time we want, and where we seem we rush through life – this is exactly when we need to pray because it slows down our life.
The problem with not slowing down our life is we might not be able to see the good in it or the graces that God has given us. My favorite example is when we sit in a doctor’s office for an appointment. At first, we read magazines. If the doctor is not yet available, our mind wanders off looking at the different things around the office – the certificates on the wall, the wallpaper, the desk of the receptionist. When we have exhausted all we think we can see, we start to notice the cracks in the floor and dents in the furniture. It is when our mind slows down that we notice – really notice – the things around us. It is the same with prayer. It slows us down so we can see the goodness of God in the things and people he surrounds us with.
Prayer is also a response to God’s nudging. Regardless of our motivation to pray, it is God who always initiates it – even if we are asking something from God. The stories of the Bible are always about God responding to prayer. He “hears” the cry of the Israelites in Egypt so he frees them and takes them to the Promised Land. He responds to the Israelites who desire a king, so God first gives them judges, and then kings. He “listens” to Judith and Esther who makes them victorious over their enemies. But, the great mystery is that God has planted these longings in their hearts in the first place so he can finish his work of salvation. Since God always initiates prayer, wouldn’t it be rude for us to ignore him?
The high school friends, who were our best friends forever, faded into the dust of our memories because we lost touch over the years. Prayer is also our relationship with God. The daily conversations with him keep our relationship with him alive. It is what keeps him as our best friend forever. This is why we have make time every day as if it were an appointment. How sad would it be that the one who loves us most is cast into whatever time we can spare?
In the Garden of Eden, the devil tricked Adam and Eve into forgetting two qualities of prayer: persistence and confidence. This attitude is expressed in the story of the persistent person who begs a friend, in the middle of the night, to lend him bread (Luke 11:5-13). We must continue to ask things from God because he always hears us, and always answers us.
The other quality of confidence means we must trust the timing of God and his wisdom in whatever he answers us even if the answer is no. If we believe he is all-knowing and all-loving, then we should have confidence that he will not give us something that might be bad for us. It is this quality of being a child that fully trusts his Father that Christ exhorts in all of us.
If the Christian martyrs in the Coliseum prayed even if they were literally facing the jaws of death, how can we, who are free to pray, say we can’t pray? “Pray unceasingly,” Saint Paul tells us. Make an appointment with Our Lord every day.
Learn more about Mary in the book A Sky Full of Stars, where each title of the Litany is explained to understand Mary. Readers in the Philippines may get the paperback version here. Those in the USA can get the Kindle or paperback version here. Those in other countries can check the closest country where it is available here.
Joby finished Theology courses from the University of Notre Dame. He is a contributing writer at www.catholic365.com, and teaches in the De La Salle College of St. Benilde where he engages students in conversations about religion, pop-culture, and food.
Did you ever wonder how Mary is the Gate of Heaven or a Mirror of Justice?
Mary's titles express how the Church presents her, but some are obscured by language and culture. The book A Sky Full of Stars, explains all her titles in the litany so we get to meet Mary face to face.
Bishop Socrates Villegas says, "A Sky Full of Stars must be an obligatory reference material for religion teachers and seminarians. It helps the reader to see the Virgin Mary within the perspective of sound biblical theology and solid Catholic tradition... [and is] also easy to understand."