Making Prayer Profitable…
Devotional Thought for our seemingly broken days:
5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you. 7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. Matthew 6:5-7 (NLT)
Sometimes I ask myself: “To whom do you pray?”And it is not hard to find the answer: “To God”, the Father or Jesus. There also are many people who pray to God as divine essence. This is not prayer, of course. Christian prayer is primarily a person to person event; we pray to the Father or to the Son or to the Holy Spirit.
90. The divine office, because it is the public prayer of the Church, is a source of piety, and nourishment for personal prayer. And therefore priests and all others who take part in the divine office are earnestly exhorted in the Lord to attune their minds to their voices when praying it. The better to achieve this, let them take steps to improve their understanding of the liturgy and of the Bible, especially of the psalms.
In revising the Roman office, its ancient and venerable treasures are to be so adapted that all those to whom they are handed on may more extensively and easily draw profit from them.
One of the hardest and yet profitable lessons I’ve learned over the years is about prayer. And that prayer is not just conversation, it is an intimate conversation with God.
Back in Junior High, my friends and I would say the rosary or pray through the stations of the cross, and we would make it a race, thinking that it was simply the saying of the prayers themselves that resulted in a blessing. Later, when I was a Protestant, training for the ministry, we only prayed “from the heart”. These prayers were full of words, especially “Lord” and “if it be Your will” and other phrases, spoken more because we didn’t know what to say, or how to say it. And so a prayer over a meal would last well into the time a normal family would be having dessert! In many ways, though perhaps heartfelt, they were babbling, as Matthew’s Gospel tells us the prayers of those who don’t know God pray.
Prayer is anything but vain, and it shouldn’t normally be incoherent babbling ( unless in the midst of trauma – but that is another conversation) And whether the prayer is one written by some other pilgrim or our own, it needs to resonate with both our brokenness, and the hope we have in the God who will heal.
This is something Vatican II was obviously trying to address, as it looked at the various services throughout the day, We need to know what we are saying, we need to realize that God is hearing these words, personally. It is not a formula, nor an algebraic equation to work out, nor the vain babbling of someone struggling to think of something to say. ( it is usually at that point when we should be listening, rather than just babbling – again – another blog sometime)
it is when the conversation is personal, in the midst of the deepest, most intimate relationship we have, with the Lord who created us, that we are actually praying. A prayer that is beneficial, because it is sacred, a time set apart just for us, individually and in a group, to walk with the God we are learning to love, as He reveals to us how much He loves us. This is when prayer is beneficial, when it is profitable, when we realize how much we are sustained.
So, my friends, I urge this, take the time, savor not just His word you hear and meditate on, but savor the words you say to Him, hear them, and know He is responding. For you are His children, and He is your Father and your God. Amen!
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Catholic Church. “Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy: Sacrosanctum Concilium.” Vatican II Documents. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2011. Print.