The ANSWER is prayer
Father, I’m running out of prayers!” I was totally unprepared for this desperate cry of a soul seeking advice.
It seemed that he had already done everything to confront unexpected life challenges in family and work: a son who couldn’t seem to mature and settle down in life, their dwindling family savings, setbacks in plans and illnesses of close relatives, etc.
“I have prayed and prayed, Father. I don’t know what else to do! And most of all, I don’t think our Lord listens to me. I need answers to all these trials.”
At that moment, I didn’t have anything concrete and convincing to help him with.
From nowhere, I simply said, “Precisely, prayer is the ANSWER!”
He gave me a very puzzled look. I could read him saying that he wasn’t going to buy that reply. Obviously, this reply wasn’t going to solve any of the issues he had painstakingly brought up.
“How can prayer itself be an answer to resolve my concerns, Father!?” He demanded.
But for one reason or another I simply repeated in a gentler tone, “We must be convinced that the ANSWER is prayer itself.”
He calmed down and said, “Okay, if it is the ANSWER, how does that ANSWER my problems.”
* * *
I had to confess to him that my very response also enlightened me and deepened my understanding of prayer.
For most, if not all of us, prayer is a powerful means to obtain some favor from God that we are by ourselves powerless to obtain. Thus, our preferred perception of and setting for prayer is to ask for things.
In our deepest needs, we may naturally forget that prayer has other features: adoration, to give thanks and to ask for forgiveness. In these other aspects of prayer, we may be neglecting a very important truth about prayer: which it is relationship.
When we pray, like it or not, we are already addressing someone, for something. Humanly, we focus on the latter more than in the former. Just the same, a relationship is being forged in the process of our petitions for our deepest needs and desires.
Even before our requests are granted or “delivered as ordered” we are already answered by the established relationship between God and our soul. In praying, we are not simply asking for
something but we become a prayer, and offering before God.
It is under this subtle yet radical moment that prayer is already itself an ANSWER. By the mere act of asking for someone or something, we are already allowing ourselves to be transformed and converted by the very stance of praying to God.
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