Saturday, November 15, 2014

God- Why We Need To Talk

I was at a retreat last year where our retreat master said to us, “You will never make time for prayer until you realize prayer is the most important thing you can do.”

There are many days when I think the most important thing I can do is earning a living, or to have fun playing a computer game or to organize my closet, and yes, there are times when these are important things for us to do. But, prayer actually is the most important thing we can do every day.

Why is prayer the most important thing we can do? Well, for one thing, we are utterly dependent on God for everything, from the air we breathe to whether our hearts beat or not.

Prayer acknowledges that we are unable to do anything at all, much less anything important, without God.

And why is that helpful to know? Because God does listen. He does answer our prayers and he is capable of doing anything. Nothing is impossible for God.

My relationship to prayer has changed. For six years, I prayed selfish prayers. I prayed for my continual happiness, good fortune, fame and success in every endeavor to impress others. I learned to cultivate “feel good” during prayer time, by focusing on the vague idea of what love “feels” like.

I was surprised to learn later that love is not a feeling. I was also surprised to learn that in relationship with God, as in any relationship, it isn't very loving to “use” our friends. Sometimes in life, it can seem that God is supposed to be our “prosperity dispenser,” but that is not His function in our lives.

As my relationship to prayer has changed, my relationship to God has changed. It's been significant for me to begin to know the person, Jesus. Jesus is God in a relatable form. I never used to pray to Jesus, only to the Father. But, since Jesus is my friend now, I want to learn all about his life and about who He is. So, my relationship with Jesus has become a more mature and healthy one now.

When I pray to God, I know God is there. I feel Him there, but that's not how I know He's there. Jesus, like “love” is not a feeling. He's Truth itself in human form. Truth can feel all sorts of ways or no way at all. And prayer is not always my “fun time” anymore. I often don't look forward to it.

In addition to the Liturgy of the Hours and daily mass, Secular Carmelites are supposed to do a minimum of thirty minutes of silent prayer a day. And when you think about it, since the Carmelite charism is prayer and prayer is our true vocation in Carmel, thirty minutes is not much time. Yet, in our busy lives in the world, everyone struggles at times to integrate even that minimum routine. This is my third year into practicing this way of life and I still have some really erratic times.

I can tell you why. It's always pride. It's always that I forget I need him for everything there is and that is why prayer is the most important thing I can do. Our relationship with God is definitely that-- a relationship with a Person. Like any relationship, we need to put the time and effort into keeping it alive and growing.

During good times and bad, we need to talk.