I am sitting here this morning trying to decide what and who (whom?) to pray for. Should I pray for world peace? How about praying for kindness and gentleness in the hearts of all world leaders, including our own? For healing, justice and purity for our beloved Catholic Church? For those names on our parish prayer chain that popped up in an email this morning? Or perhaps for those people I know who are suffering physically, spiritually, or a combination of the two? I heard an ambulance siren a short while ago; maybe I should pray for the poor soul who needs the help of emergency services in the wee hours of the morning. There are so many needs that we could spend 24 hours in prayer and still not touch everyone.
When his disciples ask for lessons in prayer, Jesus taught them the Our Father. In Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus warns us not to fill our prayer time with empty words and assures us that God knows what we need before we ask for it. He also promises that our prayers will be answered. (We all know from experience that “answered” means answered in God’s terms, not ours.)
Turning to God with prayers for my family, friends, community, our Church and the world doesn’t call God’s attention to the problem. It’s not like he was busy somewhere else and us tugging on His robe is what was needed to call attention to that war or that person with addiction. No, God got to the scene long before we did.
But our joining Him there is still spiritually useful. Perhaps we don’t fully understand the hows and whys of it; that’s okay. God’s world is full of those mysteries. God wants us to pray, therefore there is a powerful reason for prayer. That’s enough justification for me.
Heavenly Father, loving Father, thank you for creating us. Thank you for giving us the honored place of being your children and for inviting us to reach out to you. Like children, we turn to you with big prayers and little prayers. With eloquent prayers and awkward prayers. We turn to you in our own needs and when our neighbors need you. Thank you for hearing all of these prayers and for responding by enveloping us in the love that is Your Holy Spirit. May Your will be done. Amen.