St Francis Q&A

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prayer: "putting on the mind of Christ"

1)Thanks to Eileen Mooney and all who helped plan Friday night’s concert. One blogger said, “What a wonderful evening Friday's adoration was. Thanks to whoever booked the Cowan's celebration. What a gifted family, not to mention the turnout of observers. Keep coming back, our Lord is awesome and healing!”

2)Thanks to all who prayed for last weekend’s youth group retreat. Thanks be to God and your prayers, it was a fruitful weekend!
Speaking of prayer, an anonymous blogger wrote the following:

“I have a hard time believing in intercessory prayer. It's obvious that God does not grant all prayers; He does for us what we need and not necessarily on a time line that we like. Like the parent who refuses to give the kid a candy bar but gives a carrot instead. The child's prayer was not granted, but something was done for the child that was good for him. So what role does praying for a certain thing play in all this? It seems like the role of prayer is to discern how God is acting in our lives, not to get God to act in a certain way.”

I think it’s important that when we discuss the things of prayer it is with the understanding that prayer is a habit that one develops, with the help of the Holy Spirit. Christian prayer is a way of life and not just isolated moments when we ask God things. As I told the teens this past weekend, I used to only “pray” when I needed something - a passing grade on a test that I didn’t study for, for example. I also explained that there was no real relationship there between me and Christ at that time. There was no real prayer going on.

If prayer becomes a way of life and a habit in our lives, then we begin to see things differently. The Holy Spirit helps us to see things as God sees them. So, then, when specific things arise for which we would like to pray, we begin to see them as God sees them. Since God is love, we can say that we begin to see these things through the lens of love. One definition of love is to want what’s best for the other. So, when we begin to take certain things to prayer and consider what we should ask for specifically, we are trying to see what’s best for whoever is involved.

Here’s an example: some of our seniors have asked me to pray that they get into specific colleges to which they are applying. The temptation is to pray that they get into the most prestigious and successful schools out there. But, if I really want what’s best for them, I will pray that they get into the schools that God wills them to get into. That will be best for them. One teen did ask me to “pray that I get into the school I’m supposed to go to”.

So, yes, prayer in general means to discern how God is acting in our lives and what His Will is. Praying for specific things is asking that God’s Will be done (we say “thy will be done” in the Lord’s prayer) in our lives and in the lives of those for whom we pray. Prayer, then, unites us with the mind and heart of God.

Finally, Fr. Wells (who experienced much dryness in prayer, but prayed faithfully every day) once wrote: “There are many reasons why people do not pray. One of them of course, is what has been called “practical atheism”, acting as if God does not exist, no matter what a person might say he believes. But, believers, too, often give up on prayer. Their problem, though, concerns what they expect to get out of prayer. In a society that is so preoccupied with feelings, many expect that prayer will result in feeling close to God. In fact, though, the great fruit of prayer is virtue. Putting ourselves into the presence of God opens us to the power of the Spirit that orders our priorities to see as Jesus sees and to desire what He desires…Prayer gives us the grace to move beyond preoccupation with self and, little by little, to put on the mind of Christ.”


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