By: Kevin Teale
What are the odds, as we look ahead to the Christ Our Life conference in a few weeks, that one of the most common themes we’ll hear at our gathering is prayer?
When to pray? How to pray? Even, what is prayer? So what does prayer mean to you as a Catholic?
Do you find yourself in daily prayer…or only when you want or need something? How many of us will admit to promising God and the Church the first $1 million of some lottery jackpot if only He’d let you win. I thought so.
My thoughts on prayer are derived from short scenes in two sports-themed movies.
In “Rudy,” our hero is down to his last Hail Mary. If he doesn’t get accepted into Notre Dame this semester, he’ll lose his chance to ever play for the Irish because he’ll have too many college credits to transfer in and play football. As he kneels and prays, a priest who’s befriended him comes over to talk. When Rudy questions whether he has prayed enough, the priest answers…”Praying is something we do in our time, the answers come in God’s time. “
There is the crux of the problem for us. How do we know when it is God’s time, and whether the answer we didn’t get is because God isn’t listening, we didn’t pray long and hard enough, or couldn’t see the answer? That’s where faith comes in.
My second thought on prayer comes from farmer Ray Kinsella after he builds his “Field of Dreams” near Dyersville. Frustrated as he’s about to lose his farm and the playing field to the bank, he yells at Shoeless Joe about how he has plowed under his corn, built the field and drove all over the country and “not once did I ask what’s in it for me.” After Joe asks Ray what he wants, the weary farmer replies “What’s in it for me?”
Is that how you pray? Do you pray only when you need something? Do you want your answer to come on your terms or time or according to God’s plan?
A compelling video of the horrific Joplin tornado last year showed a dozen or so crammed into a convenience store cooler as the storm tore apart the building. Amid the roar, you clearly hear one woman constantly calling out to Christ. She and everyone else in the cooler survived. Did God hear and answer their prayer on his time or their time? Does that mean God didn’t answer the prayers of the 100+ people who did not survive?
I heard a good message from Father a few Sundays ago as he talked about prayer. He said too many of us probably follow the Ray Kinsella line of thinking….I pray to God because I want something whether health, a job, safe passage, etc.
Father suggested that prayer shouldn’t be about needs and desires. He said prayer should be us opening up to God and asking God what we can do for Him.
Let’s take this approach with the Christ Our Life conference. Please attend. Please pray while there. And, instead of asking God for answers on our time, why don’t we ask him how we can use our time to serve Him?