WHAT IS PRAYER?
Father Jess Anthony Testa
HOW SHOULD I PRAY?
WHY SHOULD I PRAY?
A Roman Catholic
Priest at the Sacred Heart Church
in Lombard, Illinois,
Father Testa was born and raised in Chicago,
attended Northwestern University and later John
Marshall Law School. He entered the
seminary for Late vocations in 1984 and received his M.Div.
from Sacred Heart School of
Theology, in Hales Corners, Wisconsin in 1988. Later that year he
was ordained to
the priesthood. He is currently
with the diocese of Joliet, Illinois.
We are all familiar with the
Gospel passage where the Apostles ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Two things struck me. I
find it ironic that the Apostles could have asked Jesus to teach them to work miracles
like multiplying fish and loaves or changing water to wine. They didn't. They asked Jesus
to teach them to pray. Also, when Jesus spoke about God, He said My Father. When He
taught them to pray He said Our Father. He was telling them and us that God is the loving
Father of us all.
do we pray? Many people try to bargain with God(this cannot be done). We sometimes try to
maneuver God into our plans(heal my loved one and I will go to Mass every Sunday etc.).
Prayer is not bargaining with God or manipulating God. What is prayer then?
is placing ourselves in the presence of God and waiting with open arms to receive from God
whatever He wills to place in them, good or bad(winning the lottery or carrying the
cross). It means conforming our wills to the will of God. Jesus was not masochistic. He
did not want to die. Think of the Agony in the Garden--"Father let this cup pass from
me"." Those are not the words of a man that wants to die. But then He
added--"Not My will but Your will be done." That is how our prayers should
claim God doesn't hear my prayers or God doesn't answer my prayers. God hears and answers
ALL our prayers. The problem is that we may not always get the answer we prefer. Jesus
certainly didn't get the answer He preferred, in the Garden. If Jesus didn't, who are we
to think we are better than Jesus? That is the problem with most of us--we want one answer
and one answer only. WELL, if I can't get what I want, why bothering praying?
said--Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened.
Those who ask-receive, those who seek-find, those who knock are admitted.
is it that we ALL pray for? We all pray for the same thing--HAPPINESS. We ask for those
things that will make us happy, or rather, those things we THINK will make us happy. Would
you want a new car if the steering was faulty and you or a loved one got killed, or a
swimming pool if a child drowned?
pray, first of all, that our wills conform to the will of God(not vice versa) just as
Jesus did in the Garden. The answer we get will be better than we expected because it will
show that we have complete faith and trust in God as Jesus did and that we walk in the
confidence of God--in knowing that the crosses we carry will never break us because God
carries us and our crosses in His arms.(check out FOOTPRINTS in the sand-very nice).
Secondly, Jesus tells us to pray for the Holy Spirit--"The heavenly Father will give
the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him." Why the Holy Spirit? It is the best overall
gift heaven has to offer. It is the gift of God, Himself, to us. God wants us to be happy
and will only give us what is the best for us, and make us happy. The problem is--our
ideas of happiness and His may be different. Who is right? Would any good mother give her
child a chocolate sundae twenty minutes before dinner? Of course not. Mother knows best.
The child might think I have a mean mommy, she won't let me have--whatever. Are we any
different than that child when we go to God and ask for something? I hope so.
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