September 28, 2019
I had the opportunity to speak with a group of educators from St. Matthew Catholic school in Indianapolis yesterday. They were looking for a “mini retreat” and invited me to speak on the topic of the importance of prayer.
I used the following definition of prayer as a starting point: Prayer is an intentional effort to communicate our love of God. I emphasized the “intentional” aspect; we need to make prayer a priority and make a commitment to it.
I began by speaking about traditional prayer, which communicates our love of God to Him. I included as traditional prayer what I called the “prayers of the Church”: the celebration of the Mass, Liturgy of the Hours, the Rosary, lectio divinia and others. Also included were personal conversations with God and customary prayers such as praying before meals and childhood bedtime prayers. Finally, I included “the other half of the conversation” – silence. We need to set aside time for silence to allow God the opportunity to speak to us…to speak to our hearts.
Non-traditional prayer communicates our love of God to others. This includes “prayerful living” – how we treat others, how we interact with world (the attitude we present), and being deliberate in praying for others. If we want to communicate our love of God to others, our feet should hit the ground each day with the question on our mind – “What can I do to serve others today?”
Finally, we discussed our obligation – as apostles – to evangelize. We need to be better storytellers. We have all experienced God’s active presence in our lives at one time or another – hopefully many times. We have an obligation to share those experiences, to be storytellers. Such storytelling strengthens the foundation of our own faith and offers witness to others – offers them hope.
We ended our time together by asking, “Why pray?” The answer? Prayer makes us more self-aware by humbling us – “I can’t do this without God’s help.” It is communal; we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Finally, prayer – whether traditional or non-traditional – allows us to maintain a “connectedness” to God.
I offered the following in terms of connectedness: I love my wife, Carol. Would I only communicate that love of her from 9:30-10:30 a.m. on Sunday morning? Would I only give her an hour a week? Of course not.
We shouldn’t consider going to Mass once a week as adequate communication of our love of God either.