Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of March 10, 2003
Take it to the Lord in prayer - right now
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
When you go to pray, lift up what's inside of you at that moment.
All thoughts and feelings are valid material for prayer. Simply put: When you go to pray, lift up what's inside of you at that moment. If you are bored, lift up that boredom; if you are angry, lift up your anger; if you are tired, lift up that tiredness; if you feel selfish, don't be afraid to let God see that.
Jesus said we must become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. One quality in children to which this refers is precisely their honesty in showing their feelings. Children don't hide their sulks, pouts and tantrums. A good mother handles these easily, often with a smile. God is up to the task. In prayer, we can be transparent, no matter how murderous or irreverent our thoughts and feelings might seem.
If we do that, it makes it easier for us to "pray always," as Scripture asks. What does this mean? Obviously it doesn't mean that we should always be at formal prayer, that we should strive to be full-time contemplatives, or even that we should seize every possible occasion we can to pray formally.
To "pray always" invites us rather to live our lives against a certain horizon. It doesn't necessarily mean to stop work and go to formal prayer, important though that is at times. The point is rather that we need to do everything within the context of a certain awareness, like a married man who goes on a business trip and who, in the midst of a demanding schedule of meetings and social engagements, is somehow always anchored in a certain consciousness that he has a spouse and children at home. Despite distance and various preoccupations, he knows that he is "married always." That awareness, more than the occasional explicit phone call home, is what keeps him anchored in his most important relationship.
Our relationship with God is the same. We need to "pray always" by doing everything out of that kind of awareness. Moreover, when we do spend time in formal prayer, we need, like children do, to tell God exactly how we feel and invite God to deal with that.
Rabbi Abraham Heschel points out how the great figures of Scripture did not always easily acquiesce to God and say: "Thy will be done!" They sometimes fought bitterly and said: "Thy will be changed!" That can be good prayer. It lifts mind and heart to God.
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