Just like a child who trusts his father dear ““And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites,…” (Matthew 6: 5)
As children we have wanted many things, whether it be a new toy or to pass the examinations. Our parents and catechism teachers had taught us that God is our Almighty Father who listens to all that we, His children, ask of Him. And from our young age, we have all naturally asked God to fulfill our heart’s desires. Many times we got what we asked for and sometimes we did not. And when we got what we wanted, we were happy and when we didn’t, we would either be sad or comfort ourselves by saying that God had something better for us. But is that all Prayer is about? Is God our Wishing Well where we drop our prayers into, make a wish and when granted, we live happily ever after? Or is there something more than that? You are right of course. There is more to prayer than just “Ask and you shall receive”.
To understand what prayer really is, let us look into Bible.
In The Beginning “Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.” (Genesis 2: 19)
When God made the earth and the Garden of Eden, and after he made the first man Adam, Adam and God were on talking terms with each other. God and Adam talked daily and it was a two- way communication. God asked Adam to name the animals and Adam named the animals God brought to him. The Creator and the created where friends, speaking to each other about their daily concerns and about their work. Our Ancestor Adam showed us that Prayer therefore is a conversation with God. My Brother’s Keeper “And Abel also brought an offering–fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The LORD looked with favour on Abel and his offering,” (Genesis 4: 4)
The first time we read the Cain and Abel story, I am sure we all asked ourselves the same question. Why did God accept Abel’s offering but reject Cain’s. Was it because God liked Abel more than Cain? God tells Cain that if Cain “did well”, his sacrifice would also have been accepted. This means that Cain’s anger was stopping his prayer from rising into Heaven. This is why Jesus advises us in the following words:
““Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5: 23-24)
From the world’s first Martyr, Abel, we understand that prayer is love for God and love for one’s neighbour.
Pray For Us
“Then Abraham approached God and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked?”(Genesis 18: 23)
Abraham was a God-loving person. But he didn’t stop being good only in his personal relationship with God but also in his relationship with his neighbour. Unlike Cain, he prayed for his fellowmen. And when God sent his angels to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham immediately begged to save the life of the good people who resided with the evil ones there.
Father Abraham reminds us that prayer is interceding for others. Listen If You Have Ears “The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.””(1 Samuel 3:0)
Many times we cannot hear what God wants to tell us because we are always asking for this and that from Him or complaining about something or the other. Samuel serves as a good example that prayer is not just about us talking to God but also knowing when to close our mouths and open our ears when He is speaking to us. Here we learn from Samuel the Prophet that prayer is listening to God.
Too Late To Apologize?
“Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan replied, “The LORD has taken away your sin. You are not going to die.” (2 Samuel 12: 1)
If a King is sorry for his sins, we can also learn from his example. Many times we also fail in our day to day life, but apologizing to God is the first step in getting up and starting again. We all have our own personal weaknesses but admitting that we have them allows God to help us to be better. King David instructs us that prayer is repentance.
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?
“Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?” 2 Chronicles 1: 10)
When God appeared to King Solomon and asked him what he wanted, he could have asked for anything because he deserved it. But he asked for understanding because he was humble enough to know that he knew nothing and that only God’s knowledge can help him to be a good king. This is why God was pleased and blessed Solomon more than any person in history with wealth and riches beyond his dreams. Solomon the Wise teaches us that prayer is asking for Wisdom and valuing it more than gold.
‘“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. ‘May your word to me be fulfilled.’ Then the angel left her.”(Luke 1: 38)
Our Mother Mary has a simple but a most Godloving method of prayer. When she was in prayer and the angel Gabriel came to announce that she would be the mother of Jesus, she said yes to God. When Her Divine Son was hanging on the cross, she said yes to God in that painful situation too. In both sorrow and joy, our Mother’s answer to God’s wishes is always a humble yes. Mary Our Mother teaches us that prayer is doing the Will of God Our Father “He said to them, “When you pray, say: “Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.”’ (Luke 11: 2)
The Lord’s Prayer is the perfect example of how we should pray. In it there is all what the prophets have taught us.
There is conversation with God, there is love for God and our neighbour, there is intercession, there is listening, there is repentance, there is asking for wisdom and there is doing the Will of God. When we do this, not only do we say a complete prayer, but this prayer will make us a complete person in God’s eyes. And He will bless us abundantly like he promised. To conclude, in the words of a dear Saint who was respected all over the world: Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at His disposition, and listening to His voice in the depth of our hearts.
Author: Rejoy Panackal