02 Mar Prayer 101: Some thoughts on prayer
Not that we love God, but that God loves us…
Another short reflection on prayer written by Friend and Oblate of Mucknell, Fr Raymond Avent.
We pray because God has spoken to us first and revealed his love for us. (1 John 4: 9-10) Once we have become aware of this love, and the gift of faith has stirred in us, prayer arises from that gift. Through faith and Baptism we have a relationship with Christ Jesus, the human face of God’s love. We need to pray regularly and persistently if our relationship with Jesus is to be real. But pray as you can – in a way real to you – and not as you think you ought.
Archbishop Justin reminds us that our prayer must not be pious, polite or formal: it needs to be honest, truthful, rooted in our real concerns, longings and hopes, arising from the heart. He encourages us to tell Jesus how much we need and depend on him and to tell him we love him. Prayer opens us up to God’s mercy and grace.
As prayer takes root in us we feel the need to express different reactions to God’s love:
Praise and Adoration It is perhaps especially in worship with others that we are released to praise God through hymns, songs and silence. We bow before God in awe and reverence. We praise God’s greatness, mercy, faithfulness and glory.
Confession When we become aware of our weaknesses of character, our faults and failures and our lack of love, we have a need to acknowledge the truth about ourselves, however painful, simply and honestly. Facing our false, illusory selves, before God, releases the fountain of baptismal life to flow again and we are immersed in the power of the Holy Spirit within. Asking for our needs: bringing all our desires and longings, our cares, worries and fears to the Lord, as he wants us to do, humbly and trustingly. Ask and you will receive.
Intercession The more we experience God’s love the more our hearts go out to those in any kind of need. We find ourselves moving beyond our immediate circle to include those who suffer in so many ways; we have compassion for them, as Jesus did, and bring them in prayer into God’s presence, asking him to give them what they need.
Thanksgiving As we realise that ‘everything is gift’, we become aroused to thank God for his goodness and mercy, the wonder of creation, and all the blessings of this life. This is why the Eucharist (which means thanksgiving) is the Church’s action par excellence. “Let us give thanks”. “It is right to give thanks and praise”. How can we not thank the Giver of all that is good and life-giving?