June 4, 2021

Editorial

Allow dialogue, humility in prayer to transform your relationship with God

As people of faith, prayer is a part of our daily lives.

Some begin and end their days with prayer. Others use their time travelling to and from work to offer petitions. Still others make it a point to attend daily Mass—a great time of prayer itself—to partake in the greatest gift our faith offers: the Eucharist.

But, at times, we need to remind ourselves that God answers our prayers according to his timing, not our own, and most importantly, according to his will, not our desires.

Pope Francis said as much during his weekly general audience at the Vatican on May 26.

Prayer is a humble dialogue with God to grow spiritually and discover his will for the world, the pope said.

“In prayer, it is God who must convert us, not we who must convert God,” he added.

In his main audience talk, Pope Francis continued his series on prayer by looking at how people can be certain God really listens to their prayers.

“Sometimes our prayers seem to go unheard, what we have asked for—for ourselves or for others—is not fulfilled,” he said.

“Why does he not respond to our requests?” the pope asked.

Pointing to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the Holy Father asked his listeners to think more deeply about why they demand to see the results of their petitions: “What is the image of God that motivates our prayer: an instrument to be used? Or the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?” (#2375)

This passage, he noted, warns people to avoid “the risk of not living an authentic experience of faith, but of transforming the relationship with God into something magical.

“Prayer is not a magic wand,” Pope Francis said. “It is a dialogue with the Lord. Indeed, when we pray, we can give in to the risk of not being the ones to serve God, but of expecting him to serve us.

“When we pray, we need to be humble” and believe “that God will give me what is right to give. He knows,” the pope said.

Dialogue and humility. Those two words seem to be an afterthought for some in today’s society. And if we’re honest, some of us may have gotten into the unhealthy habit of having one-sided conversations with God. If we are to be humble followers, we need to slow down—really slow down—and open our minds and hearts to truly listen to how our Lord is responding to us.

People sometimes pray for the wrong reasons, keen to make sure God is with them, the Holy Father said, “but few bother to check whether they are actually with God.”

We need to pray that God transforms our heart, he continued, and to ask the right questions to discover what is best for our spiritual health.

As Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron said in a recent daily reflection, freedom of choice reigns supreme in today’s world, where “I become the person I choose to be.” We need to constantly remind ourselves our faith calls us to be selfless followers of Christ. If we are, our lives will bear the fruit God intends.

Jesus heals many people in the Gospels, Pope Francis said, either responding to their pleas immediately or much later.

Through time, people may see that some things do work out, “but in God’s way, the divine way, not according to what we wanted at that moment. God’s time is not our time,” he said.

“Evil is lord of the penultimate day,” Pope Francis said, “the moment when the night is darkest, just before the dawn” when it is so tempting to believe the devil has won.

But, the pope continued, “the evil one is never lord of the last day. God is the Lord of the last day. Because that belongs to God alone, and it is the day when all human longings for salvation will be fulfilled.

“Let us learn this humble patience, to await the Lord’s grace, to await the final day,” when God solves everything, he said.

Our lives are times of constant conversion. We cannot sit still if we are to do our Creator’s work. As we renew our journey of faith each day, may we allow dialogue and humility in prayer to transform our relationship with God.

—Mike Krokos

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