Imagine, your eyesight is temporarily impaired, and you are totally reliant on another to guide you. A friend comes along to comfort you and asks to walk with you. Reluctantly, depending upon the intimacy of your relationship, you allow yourself to be led. As the two of you journey along, your friend alerts you of bumps in the road ahead, assists you safely crossing streets, stepping down curbs and climbing upstairs. At times though, you pull away confident your way is the way. This causes you to trip or even stumble. Gently your friend pulls you back or sets you right, as you realize having someone to walk with is good. Eventually you become adept at listening for cues, even sensing the direction you are being guided next. And, after a time your bond has grown, your anxiety has lessened, and you find you are at peace.
Saint Teresa of Avila’s definition of prayer: “Prayer is nothing else than an intimate friendship, a frequent heart-to-heart with Him by whom we know ourselves to be loved.” Daily prayer is necessary in order for us to mature in faith, growing closer to God. This is a discipline of the will and a devotion of the heart and mind. It is thanksgiving and petition in daily communion with God. I liken it to the everyday interaction I have with my closest friend. When we do not habitually communicate with one another our friendship changes, our intimacy dwindles. We intentionally make time to connect in order to maintain the closeness of our relationship. Sometimes this is as simple as a text message exchange until we can catch up with one another in deeper conversation. This connectivity is what allows us to freely spill our hearts out to one another. Prayer is like that too. We need – no, we must carve out quiet time each day inviting God into our lives, building a friendship.
God thirsts (John 19:28) for us. He is the first initiator of prayer. This is worth spending a lifetime meditating on. God thirsts for us. He initiates the conversation with us because He loves us and longs for us to fall as deeply in love with Him as He is with us. It is so amazing! Our God, Creator of all is pursuing a uniquely intimate relationship with each one of us. Are we willing and intent on showing up and sharing ourselves with Him? When we make time to offer God our hearts and minds in prayer each day, we acknowledge in faith our desire to be in relationship with Him too. Consider what may be preventing you from a deeper prayer life? And, then begin by asking God to help you come to Him freely. Maybe you have heard that saying, “A friend is someone who knows everything about you and likes you anyway”. God knows. There is nothing about us that is hidden from Him and yet He loves us infinitely more than we comprehend. To mature in faith, we should be honest and genuine with ourselves and God in prayer. We don’t need to dress it up or make it pretty. It is our weaknesses, our fears and our failures He wants us to bring to Him, along with our gratitude and thanksgiving. God is the Father that longs for us to stop and talk with Him about the things that fill us up and those that break our hearts. Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7).
Prayer is both a gift of grace and a determined response on our part.
Prayer is a battle.
Against ourselves and against the wiles of the tempter
who does all he can to turn man away from prayer, away from union with God.
(Catechism of the Catholic Church 2725)
Time spent in the company of friends is joyful, light work. Mostly that is true, however, there are periods when it is laborious and can feel like a chore. In any relationship that matters, we experience seasons that require patience and endurance while working through difficulties. This happens in our prayer life, especially when we allow our feelings to dictate the depth or quality of our conversations with God. Our emotions are unreliable. There will be stages when our prayer life seems insufficient and lifeless. Yet, we must fight back discouragement and maintain faithfulness especially when we feel the absence of God’s response to our petitions. Show up, allow God to do the work. He is patiently and unceasingly drawing us into a deeper friendship and spiritual life.
Love to pray.
If you want to pray better, you must pray more.
Prayer enlarges the heart until it is capable of containing God’s gift of himself.
St. Theresa of Calcutta
We need friends to walk with us in this everyday life. Good, gracious friends teach us much about the bond of love. We do not know what any given day will bring us. Blessings or burdens, each a different gift from God. He is working through people and situations in our life to turn our hearts and minds to Him. Be still and know that I am God. Be not hesitant or lukewarm in opening your heart to our Father. Be steadfast and confident God hears you. (1 John 5:14) We are called to do God’s will as Jesus did. Love God with our whole heart and mind and love our neighbors as ourselves is what Jesus told us. But this mission is impossible without leaning on the power and grace of God. We need Him to guide us in the way we ought to go. We cannot do this without the intimate exchange of heart-to-heart with Him. Our Father is waiting with arms wide open to embrace us. He yearns to fill us up with his goodness, joy, peace, kindness, mercy and love so that we may share our abundance with all those we encounter. We can choose to give our whole heart or just a little; that is the battle. He thirsts for you. Be still, pray and be led.