Prior to 2007, I did not appreciate the value of prayer. At times, I would ask God for things I wanted. However, for the most part, I was not all that prayerful. I did not sense the prayer at Catholic Mass as particularly personal or sincere. That was my fault. What I was missing was what prayer was. I did not understand how anyone could have a relationship with God. I did not understand others telling me they had “found Christ.” We cannot see nor touch God nor Jesus; so, how can one possibly have a relationship with them?
So then came 2007 for me. A retreat. From that weekend, I found men who honestly spoke of their prayer lives. Some had this gift their entire life. Most of the men came upon it in some way. Most of the men found that something was missing in their life, their life got more difficult, they experienced one or more traumatic events that created a recognizable imbalance, they found that having a relationship with God was the answer to their inner yearnings for something more from this life.
That is what happened to me.
From these men, I learned how to recognize God’s existence in this life, I learned how to count those things that were good in my life, I learned how to give thanks to our loving God for these good things in my life, I learned how to pray for myself and for others, and I learned how to find things within myself that were preventing me from being a better person. All these things I discussed with God, in prayer. I learned to speak with God every hour, I was gifted with the ability to see the effect of God every hour, I recognized God in nature and in people and in “coincidental” events. I found that prayer can exist most all the time, without having to kneel and without having to drop everything else.
Yes, there is a time to kneel and drop everything else. However, for the other times, we can relate to God, we can relate to Jesus, in all we do. We can see God in the sunrise, we can see Him in the smile of others, we can see Him in fortunate series of events, and if we are open to it, we can see Him in more tragic events in our lives or in the lives of others. I have come to understand that in hard times that blessings are always present; however, it may take some time to realize exactly what those blessings are. The important thing is that we can trust God in difficult times; we can trust that blessings will come or may already exist yet are not yet recognized.
You see, for me, prayer is more defined as relating to God. We can speak with Him most all day long. We can maintain space within our minds and our hearts for God to speak to us, yes, speak to us, deep within our selves, in that soft, quiet voice, past all those other voices that put us down. We can elevate all we do to having a higher purpose, to serving our fellow man, to perhaps improving the lives of others or perhaps to helping others to have more hope in their lives. We can focus less on ourselves, trusting that God will care for us. As a result, we can serve others better, in a more meaningful way, serving as the hands and feet and eyes and ears of Jesus, on this earth, right now.
To me, this is prayer. We can relate to God, we can prevent ourselves from becoming overcome by worry and anxiety, trusting that God will care for us and will speak to us. Yes, oh yes, we still must be responsible, we still must work, and we still must do our due diligence in all we do. However, we needn’t let worry and anxiety expend our energies. Instead, we can trust in our loving God, and focus more on serving and loving others. This can re-frame all we do. This can elevate the importance of even menial tasks. This is living in prayer. This is making our life a life of prayer.
We can all do this. If you have questions, feel free to contact me in any way you feel comfortable. Feel free to peruse more of my writings on faith. I invite you to discuss this with a trusted and dedicated Christian friend. I invite you to discuss this with a pastor/minister/priest. This can be a life-changer. It was for me. Oh yes, prayer really is that important….