Tuesday, August 23, 2005
Development in Prayer  

The most recent entry over on Disputations discussed refocusing our perception of God to view Him as our Father rather than an omnipotent provider of goods and services. I wrote a comment in response which here I have expanded into an entry. The topic led me to think about what it means to be a child of God in terms of our prayer life. In particular, I started to think about what it means that God is our Father and we are called to come to Him like little children.

Now, little children, come to their father with complete and total trust. He is the mighty man who can do all things. If you have a problem, daddy can fix it. Truly, we are called to view God as such a Father because indeed He is all powerful, and He can fix anything.

However, we are also called to mature in our relationship with God. Although we are called to come to Him as little children, perhaps we are not to remains simply such, but instead, we are to mature in to older children. Older children still turn to their father as the one who can take care of a mess or repair the broken toy. However, a wise father encourages his children to be part of the effort to fix a problem. Perhaps, the father will ask his son or daughter to hand him a tool which he needs when he is fixing the broken swing. Through this participation the children are learning valuable lessons such as how to fix things, how to help, and how to think about solving a problem.

As the children grow older, they become young people who are able to fix things on their own. The son or daughter can now fix the flat tire on the bicycle because dad showed them how to do it. However, they also can rest assured that if they run into a problem fixing the tire, they can ask dad for his help.

In our petitionary prayer life, it seems that God desires for us to mature in much the same way. We are, of course, always completely dependent upon Him for all things. Yet He desires for us to have a greater participation in our prayers and in the answers to our prayers. For instance, we might pray to be able to handle a certain situation. Our prayer is for His grace. We still must be in the situation. We cannot simply hand it all over to Him. However, our greater participation in the answer might be spending time preparing for the situation. Our prayer, rather than simply expecting God to take care of it, might help us to see solutions which we can implement. His grace acts in our hearts, even as it acts in the hearts of others.

In the case of a prayer for some physical healing, we entrust the healing to God's care. Again, the answer to our prayer might include our efforts to relieve the person's pain by reaching out to the person through a phone call or a note. The idea is that as we grow in our relationship with God, we grow in our ability to participate in His answers to our prayers.

Perhaps what I have written is extremely obvious. I simply was struck by the idea that although we are to be like little children in our complete trust in God the Father, we are also called to grow in our prayer life in such a way that seems to mirror our own development from childhood to adulthood. My own experience has illustrated this phenomena of God's desire for my greater participation in His fixing problems. It reminds me of the exhortation which I believe is attributed to St. Ignatius of Loyola, "Pray as if everything depended on God, and work as if everything depended on you." When we fail to have this type of attitude, we might experience the frustration of God's answers to our prayers. The problem is not God's, it is ours. Indeed the problem might be that we often remain in the very early childhood phase in which we expect God to do it all when He wants us to do more.

Posted by David at 2:00 AM  |  Comments (0)  | 


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