Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What has become of prayer?

Prayer is, or should be, the basis of the spiritual life. We pray in Church on Sundays, maybe even at meals with the family and some of us even pray in the morning when we awake and before we go to bed. Sometimes we pray more, a lot of times less. It's hard, make no mistake about it, to pray especially to pray "unceasingly" as St. Paul exhorts us. And then, should we pray, we try to pray as little and as quickly as possible.

And what do we pray for? Most often for help or guidance or reassurance in times of trouble. Occasionally, we give thanks for the blessings that God has given to us. We pray for our friends and for our loved ones who are in pain. We pray for our political leaders, our soldiers that they be free from harm. We pray to win the lottery, we pray to get that promotion, we pray for stocks to rise and gas prices to fall. There is no limit for what we pray for, but there always seems to be an expectation that when we pray, there is going to be a response, immediately yay or nay.

Is this what prayer has become? Is this what we have turned God into? Have we likened our prayers so much to the coins that we put into a slot machine (representing God) and then hope, even pray, for a good and profitable return? Have we forgotten that when our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane before His Passion, he prayed "not mine, but thy will be done?" Did he not also teach us that same thing in what we call the Lord's Prayer? Of course. Our prayers have become so egocentric. Prayer, asceticism, fasting, almsgiving, the mysteries are supposed to be tools with which we can turn away from our ego and partake of God.

And with the information age, it seems to get only worse. Consider this article:

Now we can just twitter God directly. Our prayers will be printed and put in the Western Wall. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with the tradition of placing petitions in the cracks of the wall, but to do this via twitter really is not praying. Our Lord, fortunately, hears our prayers no matter where we are.

We worry so much about our young leaving the church and never returning. Perhaps, if we have genuine prayer as families, that can help to stop it. But even the parents, need help and practice there, too.

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