People can be so annoying. Pretty much everyone in the world has “friends” (or even family) who they never hear from…until they need something. Or there’s the person that every single time you run into them you get the “broken record” run down of everything going wrong in their life. You might see them coming and duck to avoid them, but they find you…oh, they find you…and they don’t take a breath. There’s no getting a word in here!
Then, there’s the person that wants to do the same thing every time you see them. There’s no variety in the relationship and its taxing to have to see them because you know what you’re in for; you’ve done/heard it a million times over. You probably don’t have to spend too much time with these people, but if you’re anything like me, when you do it’s totally out of obligation—not desire.
Sometimes we can be like those people in our prayer lives—maybe with God we are that friend who is lousy at keeping up relationships until we have a need. Maybe we’re a broken record—we give God a rundown of our daily complaints. Maybe we’re stuck in a rut—repeating the same stuff we’ve said our whole lives because that was how we were taught and we never looked into what we’re saying, or doing it differently. And maybe we do it out of obligation or habit. Whether or not we pray every day, it’s a good idea to look at how we pray once in a while. Thank God, no matter how we do it, God never hides from or judges us—God accepts any attempt we make at reaching out and never gets bored with us.
In fact, as we hear in the Gospel of (Lk 11: 5-8), Jesus tells us to be persistent. He uses a guy who is driving his neighbor (actually, it says “friend”) crazy, keeping him up at night, as the example of how we should be. How is that a good model for our relationship with God?!? Well, for starters, God really does want to hear from us. Any time we pray, no matter how we do it, we are opening ourselves up to God. We make ourselves, on some level, receptive to what God wants to reveal to us. When we ask for stuff, we are presented with the possibility of knowing the answer to our request. Sometimes that means hearing a “yes,” sometimes a “no,” and sometimes a “not yet.” It can also allow us to hear what we’re really asking for. But, most of all, it can change our hearts.
Jesus gave us the Lord’s Prayer when asked how to pray. It’s perfect. It begins by acknowledging who God is—our Father; holy and all powerful—and giving glory to God.Then we ask God to help us match our will to His will—we ask for the kingdom of God to come, Jesus said it’s our job to spread it, and we want God’s will to be done, we’re supposed to do it! We ask for our daily needs to be met—that’s reasonable. Then we ask God to forgive us the way we forgive others. Oh, snap—need to ponder that one… We wrap up by asking God to help us stay out of trouble, and avoid the things that would tempt us to trouble. Ultimately, that prayer says, “God, I know you’re God and I’m not. Give me what I need to be more like you for others.” It’s perfect. If we persistently ask for that, we’re going to get it!
God desires a full, deep relationship with each of us. Communication in prayer is integral to how we get there. Our Church has a rich tradition of variety in prayer: The Rosary,The Examen, The Liturgy of the Hours, Contemplative Prayer, Lectio Divina—there are hundreds of ways to pray. There’s no need to be broken record or in a rut.Whether you’ve been in relationship with God your whole life, or just met, these are great starters for developing the relationship and really getting to know God and yourself. (Each prayer type listed above is a link to a website that can help you try it out.)